Quality of recent clinical practice guidelines in anaesthesia publications using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation II instrument

Br J Anaesth. 2022 Apr;128(4):655-663. doi: 10.1016/j.bja.2021.11.037. Epub 2022 Jan 26.


Clinical practice guidelines are a valuable resource aiding medical decision-making based on scientific evidence. In anaesthesia, guidelines are increasing in both number and scope, influencing individual practice and shaping local departmental policy. The aim of this review is to assess the quality of clinical practice guidelines published in high impact anaesthesia journals over the past 5 yr using the internationally validated Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE) II instrument. A literature search was conducted in Scopus to identify all guidelines published in the top 10 anaesthesia journals as per Clarivate Analytics Impact Factor from 2016 and 2020. Fifty-one guidelines were included for analysis by five independent appraisers using AGREE II. Each guideline was assessed across six domains and 23 items. Individual domain scores were calculated with a threshold agreed via consensus to represent high-quality guidelines. There was a significant increase in overall score over time (P=0.041), driven by Domain 3 (Rigour of Development, P=0.046). The raw overall score for Domain 3, however, was low. The other domains performed as expected based on previous studies, with Domains 1, 4, and 6 achieving high scores and Domains 2 and 5 incurring poor ratings. Most guidelines studied involved international collaboration but emerged from a single professional society. Use of an appraisal tool was stated as high but poorly detailed. The improvement in the overall score of guidelines and rigour of development is promising; however, only seven guidelines met high-quality criteria, suggesting room for improvement for the overall integrity of guidelines in anaesthesia.

Keywords: AGREE II instrument; anaesthesia guideline appraisal; anaesthesia guidelines; clinical practice guideline; quality in anaesthesia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia*
  • Consensus
  • Humans