Making clinical policy explicit. Legislative policy making and lessons for developing practice guidelines

Int J Technol Assess Health Care. Winter 1993;9(1):11-25. doi: 10.1017/s0266462300002993.


Promulgation of practice guidelines in medicine has increased interest in the structure of clinical policy making. It is argued that with a generic definition of policy as "the rules governing the behavior of individuals or institutions," clinical policy making is analogous to legislative policy making. Practice guidelines emphasize the advantages of making clinical policy more explicit. The structure of legislative policy making has evolved over many years to meet the challenge of making both the policies and the process of policy making explicit. Processes to promulgate clinical policies may be able to exploit this experience to improve clinical policy making and thereby retain control of the process within medicine. Generic steps are outlined for making decisions with incomplete information; synthesis of facts, vested interests, and values; involvement of stakeholders; and implementation of policy. An illustration of the use of the generic steps to make and implement a clinical policy for cesarean birth follows, with evaluations of its impact on the behavior and satisfaction of clinical stakeholders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Cesarean Section / standards
  • Health Policy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Policy Making*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards
  • Public Policy