Introduction: Professional societies, like many other organizations, have recognized the need to use more rigorous processes to ensure that health care recommendations are informed by the best available research evidence. This is the last of a series of 14 articles that methodologists and researchers from around the world have prepared to advise guideline developers in respiratory and other diseases on how to achieve this. We updated a review of the literature on guideline adaptation, evaluation, and updating, focusing on four key questions.
Methods: In this review we addressed the following questions. (1) Which high-quality guidelines on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are available? (2) How should guidelines be adapted to the user's context and culture? (3) How should the use of guidelines be evaluated in clinical practice? and (4) How should guidelines be efficiently kept up-to-date? We did not conduct systematic reviews ourselves. We relied on a literature review published in 2006 and on a manual produced by the ADAPTE Collaboration to inform our judgments, as well as our collective experience and workshop discussions.
Results and discussion: Guideline adaptation can be seen as an alternative to de novo development and as part of an implementation process, taking into consideration the user's own context. A systematic approach should be followed to ensure high quality of the resulting guidance. On the topic of COPD, many guidelines are available. Guidelines of the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease and of the American Thoracic Society and European Respiratory Society are particularly well-suited for adaptation. The adaptation process includes (1) definition of specific questions that need to be answered by the guideline; (2) assessment of guideline quality; (3) assessment of the clinical content, validity, acceptability, applicability, and transferability of the recommendations; and (4) decisions about adoption or adaptation of the recommendations. The use of the guidelines in practice can be measured with performance indicators. Adverse effects of strict adherence to guideline recommendations should be prevented, in particular when the improvement of patient outcomes is unclear. COPD guidelines should be updated at least every 2 years. Collaboration between COPD guideline developers is recommended to prevent duplication of effort.