Recommendations are proposed for preparing more informative abstracts of articles describing clinical practice guidelines. Information about the development and content of guidelines should be summarized with the following structure.
Objective: a succinct statement of the objective of the guideline, including the targeted health problem, the targeted patients and providers, and the main reason for developing recommendations concerning this problem for this population.
Options: principal practice options that were considered in formulating the guideline.
Outcomes: significant health and economic outcomes identified as potential consequences of the practice options.
Evidence: Methods used to gather, select, and synthesize evidence, and the date of the most recent evidence obtained.
Values: persons and methods used to assign values (relative importance) to potential outcomes of alternative practice options.
Benefits, harms, and costs: the type and magnitude of the main benefits, harms, and costs that are expected to result from guideline implementation.
Recommendations: a brief and specific list of key recommendations.
Validation: the results of any external review, comparison with guidelines developed by other groups, or clinical testing of guideline use.
Sponsors: key persons or groups that developed, funded, or endorsed the guideline. Abstracts adhering to these recommendations could enhance readers' ability to appraise the applicability, importance, and validity of guidelines for specific providers, patients, and settings. More informative abstracts could also promote the use of more explicit methods of guideline development, more consistent reporting of guideline documents, and the more appropriate use of guidelines by clinicians.