Raising the quality of rheumatology management recommendations: lessons from the EULAR process 10 years after provision of standard operating procedures

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2015 Aug;54(8):1392-6. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keu525. Epub 2015 Feb 19.


Objective: To increase understanding of how to raise the quality of rheumatology guidelines by reviewing European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) management recommendations, using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE) II instrument, 10 years after publication of the EULAR standardized operating procedures (SOP) for the production of recommendations. It was hoped that this work could help inform improvements in guideline development by other societies and organizations.

Methods: The SOP were published in 2004 to ensure the quality of EULAR-endorsed recommendations. We reviewed 27 published EULAR recommendations for management using the AGREE II tool. This provides a framework to assess the quality of guidelines across six broad domains using 23 specific questions.

Results: Overall the EULAR recommendations reviewed have been performed to a high standard. There are particular strengths in the methodology and presentation of the guidelines; however, the results indicate areas for development in future recommendations: in particular, stakeholder involvement and applicability of the recommendations. Improvements in quality were evident in recent years, with patient representation in 9 of 15 (60.0%) recommendations published 2010-14 compared with 4 of 12 (33.3%) published 2000-09.

Conclusion: In the last 10 years the overall quality of recommendations was good, with standards improving over the decade following publication of the SOP. However, this review process has identified potential areas for improvement, especially in patient representation and provision of implementation tools. The lessons from this work can be applied to the development of rheumatology guidelines by other societies and organizations.

Keywords: clinical practice guideline; health care quality assessment; rheumatology.

MeSH terms

  • Disease Management*
  • Europe
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Patient Participation
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*
  • Quality of Health Care / standards*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rheumatic Diseases / therapy*