Guide to clinical practice guidelines: the current state of play

Int J Qual Health Care. 2016 Feb;28(1):122-8. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzv115. Epub 2016 Jan 20.


Introduction: Extensive research has been undertaken over the last 30 years on the methods underpinning clinical practice guidelines (CPGs), including their development, updating, reporting, tailoring for specific purposes, implementation and evaluation. This has resulted in an increasing number of terms, tools and acronyms. Over time, CPGs have shifted from opinion-based to evidence-informed, including increasingly sophisticated methodologies and implementation strategies, and thus keeping abreast of evolution in this field of research can be challenging.

Methods: This article collates findings from an extensive document search, to provide a guide describing standards, methods and systems reported in the current CPG methodology and implementation literature. This guide is targeted at those working in health care quality and safety and responsible for either commissioning, researching or delivering health care. It is presented in a way that can be updated as the field expands.

Conclusion: CPG development and implementation have attracted the most international interest and activity, whilst CPG updating, adopting (with or without contextualization), adapting and impact evaluation are less well addressed.

Keywords: adaptation; clinical practice guidelines; guideline development; implementation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Decision Making
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*
  • Terminology as Topic