Background and purpose: Implementation of contextually appropriate, evidence-based, expert-recommended stroke prevention guideline is particularly important in Low-Income Countries (LMICs), which bear disproportional larger burden of stroke while possessing fewer resources. However, key quality characteristics of guidelines issued in LMICs compared with those in High-Income Countries (HICs) have not been systematically studied. We aimed to compare important features of stroke prevention guidelines issued in these groups.
Methods: We systematically searched PubMed, AJOL, SciELO, and LILACS databases for stroke prevention guidelines published between January 2005 and December 2015 by country. Primary search items included: "Stroke" and "Guidelines". We critically appraised the articles for evidence level, issuance frequency, translatability to clinical practice, and ethical considerations. We followed the PRISMA guidelines for the elaboration process.
Results: Among 36 stroke prevention guidelines published, 22 (61%) met eligibility criteria: 8 from LMICs (36%) and 14 from HICs (64%). LMIC-issued guidelines were less likely to have articulation of recommendations (62% vs. 100%, p=0.03), involve high quality systematic reviews (21% vs. 79%, p=0.006), have a good dissemination channels (12% vs 71%, p=0.02) and have an external reviewer (12% vs 57%, p=0.07). The patient views and preferences were the most significant stakeholder considerations in HIC (57%, p=0.01) compared with LMICs. The most frequent evidence grading system was American Heart Association (AHA) used in 22% of the guidelines. The Class I/III and Level (A) recommendations were homogenous among LMICs.
Conclusions: The quality and quantity of stroke prevention guidelines in LMICs are less than those of HICs and need to be significantly improved upon.
Keywords: Developing countries; Guideline; Practice guideline; Primary prevention; Secondary prevention; Stroke.
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