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Clinical Practice Guidelines: About

This is a guide to help students and faculty find clinical practice guidelines.

What are CPGs?

The widely recognized definition of Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) is "systematically developed statements to assist practitioner and patient decisions about appropriate health care for specific clinical circumstances" (Institute of Medicine, 1990).

However, the IOM refined its definition in 2011 to say: Clinical practice guidelines are statements that include recommendations intended to optimize patient care that are informed by a systematic review of evidence and an assessment of the benefits and harms of alternative care options. Note the change in evidence to systematic review and the addition of assessment.

According to an overview in UpToDate, guidelines have two parts:

  • The foundation is a systematic review of the research evidence bearing on a clinical question, focused on the strength of the evidence on which clinical decision-making for the condition is based
  • A set of recommendations, involving both the evidence and value judgments regarding benefits and harms of alternative care options, addressing how patients with that condition should be managed, everything else being equal

Why are CPGs important?

There is a lot of published literature out there. CPGs offer a quick way to access the combined wisdom of the systematic review process and subject matter experts. They allow practitioners quick access to EBP.

"High-quality, evidence-informed clinical practice guidelines offer a way of bridging the gap between best practice, local contexts, and patient choice" (Kredo, et al., 2016). 

In a nutshell, well-done CPGs can quickly improve the quality of patient care, health, and safety.

Clinical Application

CPGs can bridge the gap between recommended care and care in practice (IOM Committee on Standards for Developing Trustworthy Clinical Practice Guidelines, 2011). 

Clinicians can consult guidelines when considering any treatment for a specific condition.