Methodological Quality Assessment with the AGREE II Scale and a Comparison of European and American Guidelines for the Treatment of Lyme Borreliosis: A Systematic Review

Pathogens. 2021 Jul 31;10(8):972. doi: 10.3390/pathogens10080972.


Background: Most European and American countries recently updated their guidelines on Lyme borreliosis (LB). The aim of this study was to provide a comparative overview of existing guidelines on the treatment of LB in Europe and America and to assess the methodological quality of their elaboration.

Methods: A systematic search was carried out in MEDLINE, Google Scholar, and the national databases of scientific societies from 2014 to 2020. Quality was assessed by two independent reviewers using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation II (AGREE II) tool.

Results: Twelve guidelines were included. The scores for the AGREE II domains (median ± IQR) were: overall assessment 100 ± 22, scope and purpose 85 ± 46, stakeholder involvement 88 ± 48, rigour of development 67 ± 35, clarity of presentation 81 ± 36, applicability 73 ± 52 and editorial independence 79% ± 54%. Cohen's weighted kappa showed a high agreement (K = 0.90, 95%CI 0.84-0.96). Guidelines were quite homogeneous regarding the recommended molecules (mostly doxycycline in the first intention and ceftriaxone in the second intention), their duration (10 to 28 days), and their dosage. The differences were due to the lack of well-conducted comparative trials. The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) guidelines were the only ones to suggest longer antibiotics based on an expert consensus.

Conclusion: European and American guidelines for the treatment of LB were quite homogeneous but based on moderate- to low-evidence studies. Well-conducted comparative trials are needed to assess the best molecules, the optimal duration and the most effective doses.

Keywords: AGREE II; Lyme borreliosis; guidelines; treatment.

Publication types

  • Review