Background: The publication of clinical prediction rules (CPRs) studies has risen significantly. It is unclear if this reflects increasing usage of these tools in clinical practice or how this may vary across clinical areas.
Aim: To review clinical guidelines in selected areas and survey GPs in order to explore CPR usefulness in the opinion of experts and use at the point of care.
Design and setting: A review of clinical guidelines and survey of UK GPs.
Method: Clinical guidelines in eight clinical domains with published CPRs were reviewed for recommendations to use CPRs including primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and stroke, diabetes mellitus, fracture risk assessment in osteoporosis, lower limb fractures, breast cancer, depression, and acute infections in childhood. An online survey of 401 UK GPs was also conducted.
Results: Guideline review: Of 7637 records screened by title and/or abstract, 243 clinical guidelines met inclusion criteria. CPRs were most commonly recommended in guidelines regarding primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (67%) and depression (67%). There was little consensus across various clinical guidelines as to which CPR to use preferentially.
Survey: Of 401 responders to the GP survey, most were aware of and applied named CPRs in the clinical areas of cardiovascular disease and depression. The commonest reasons for using CPRs were to guide management and conform to local policy requirements.
Conclusion: GPs use CPRs to guide management but also to comply with local policy requirements. Future research could focus on which clinical areas clinicians would most benefit from CPRs and promoting the use of robust, externally validated CPRs.
Keywords: clinical guidelines; clinical prediction rules; survey.