Clinical practice guidelines for treatment of acne vulgaris: a critical appraisal using the AGREE II instrument

Arch Dermatol Res. 2014 Apr;306(3):269-77. doi: 10.1007/s00403-013-1394-x. Epub 2013 Aug 8.


A significant number of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) about the treatment of acne vulgaris in adolescents and adults have been published worldwide. However, little is known about the quality of CPGs in this field. The aim of this study was to appraise the methodological quality of published acne vulgaris CPGs. We performed a systematic review of published CPGs on acne vulgaris therapy from July 2002 to July 2012. Three reviewers independently assessed each CPG using the AGREE II instrument. A standardized score was calculated for each of the six domains. Our search strategy identified 103 citations but just six met our inclusion criteria. Agreement among reviewers was very good: 0.981. The domains that scored better were: "scope and purpose" and "clarity and presentation". Those that scored worse were "stakeholder involvement", "rigor of development", and "applicability". The European and the Malaysian CPGs were the only recommended with no further modifications. In addition, the Mexican, Colombian and the United States guidelines were recommended with provisos, with lower scores regarding stakeholder involvement, rigor of development and applicability. Only two guidelines clearly reported outcome measures for evaluating efficacy or included quality of life outcomes. CPGs varied regarding the consideration of light/laser therapy or consideration of complementary/alternative medicines. None of them included cost considerations of drugs such as systemic isotretinoin. In conclusion, published acne vulgaris CPGs for acne therapy vary in quality with a clear need to improve their methodological rigor. This could be achieved with the adherence to current CPGs development standards.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / diagnosis
  • Acne Vulgaris / therapy*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Consensus
  • Dermatology / standards*
  • Guideline Adherence / standards*
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*
  • Quality Improvement / standards
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care / standards
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult