Introduction: Professional societies, like many other organizations around the world, have recognized the need to use rigorous processes to ensure that health care recommendations are informed by the best available research evidence. This is the twelfth of a series of 14 articles that were prepared to advise guideline developers in respiratory and other diseases. This article discusses the reporting and publishing of guidelines.
Methods: The authors formulated and discussed the following questions on the reporting and publishing of guidelines. (1) What should be reported in guidelines? (2) How should guidelines be written? (3) How should the bottom-line message be conveyed? (4) How should guidelines be packaged? (5) Where should guidelines be published? (6) Who benefits from the publication of guidelines? (7) What information should be vetted by the editor(s)? (8) How should guidelines be peer reviewed? We conducted a review of the literature, looking for systematic reviews and methodological research that addressed these questions, but we did not conduct a full systematic review. Our conclusions are based on the available evidence from the published literature and logical arguments from experienced guideline developers.
Results and discussion: There is little empirical evidence that addresses the reporting and publishing of guidelines. A standard format for reporting guidelines is desirable to ensure that guidelines are comprehensive and that all of the information necessary to judge their quality is presented. In addition, guidelines should contain concise evidence-based recommendations. To facilitate the use of guidelines by consumers, it is preferable to publish them in journals that serve the target audience and to package them in multiple ways. Editors and peer reviewers should ensure that reporting standards have been met, potential conflicts of interest have been adequately addressed and made public, and that the recommendations address important clinical questions.