Clinical guidelines are recommendations on how healthcare and other professionals should care for people with specific conditions. The recommendations are based on the best available evidence. Guidelines require information scientists, systematic reviewers and health economists to work with the commissioners and experienced clinicians to:
1) Devise the scope of the guideline
The technical and clinical teams need to establish the important areas of practice where more evidence is required, or where new data may have emerged. This leads to a series of clinical systematic review questions.
2) Prepare review protocols, and search, collect and analyse the clinical effectiveness data
The second stage involves the production of detailed protocols for each systematic review question, where details of the population, the agents being investigated and the clinical outcomes used to measure effectiveness are agreed. Details of how data will be synthesised are also prepared. Once this has been completed, searches may begin, and eligible data are extracted from papers and synthesised narratively or with meta-analysis.
3) Evaluate the cost effectiveness of the data
The third stage evaluates how cost-effective the agents may be, often in terms of the cost per unit gain in quality of life.
4) Write clinical recommendations for the guideline
The fourth stage involves presentation of the clinical and health economic findings to the clinical members of the team, who then formulate clinical recommendations, which are the basis of the guideline.
We are currently working on a surgical guideline commissioned by the University of Leipzig, and recent guidelines include the Pfizer prostate cancer guidelines (2021), the Pfizer breast cancer guidelines (2018) and the Grunenthal pain in children guidelines (2018).
One member of our team has almost 10 years of experience working for the National Guideline Centre as a senior research fellow, working on NICE guidelines such as Atrial Fibrillation, Thyroid Cancer, Epilepsy, Varicose Veins, Multiple Sclerosis and Trauma. All members of the KSR team have the knowledge and skills to form a highly effective technical team for a clinical guideline.