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NHMRC initiatives to support high quality clinical practice guideline development

Clinical practice guidelines portal

The national clinical practice guidelines portal has been developed to assist clinicians, consumers and policy-makers access Australian clinical practice guidelines through a single entry point. All guidelines have been assessed against selection criteria, modified from those used by the United States National Guidelines Clearinghouse, and adapted to the Australian context.

The national clinical practice guidelines portal can be accessed at: www.clinicalguidelines.gov.au.

Australian guideline developers can apply to have their guidelines assessed for inclusion on the portal by contacting the portal administrator at clinicalguidelines@nhmrc.gov.au.

Clinical practice guidelines in development register

The guidelines in development register is a public register of information about clinical practice guidelines either planned or under development in Australia. Linked to the portal, it has been designed to help reduce duplication of guidelines and to help guideline developers to collaborate with other developers in common areas of interest. This will further assist policy-makers and guideline funders to better coordinate guideline development activities in Australia.

Australian guideline developers currently planning, developing or revising guidelines for national, state or local use are encouraged to submit their details online at: www.clinicalguidelines.gov.au/in-development

Guideline developers intending to seek NHMRC approval must list their guideline in development on the guidelines in development register at least eight months prior to public consultation.

Reporting on Australian Clinical Practice Guidelines

In 2010 NHMRC published a national study on the characteristics of clinical practice guidelines (Medical Journal of Australia 2010; 192 (9): 490-494). This study examined the scope and quality of clinical practice guidelines produced or reviewed in Australia between 2003 and 2007, and provides a useful platform to understand gaps and areas for improvement in the development of high quality guidelines.

The study can be found at: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2010/192/9/australian-clinical-practice-guidelines-national-study

NHMRC now produces annual reports on the characteristics of Australian clinical practice guidelines based on analysis of the guidelines on the national clinical practice guidelines portal.

The reports provide information about who funds and develops clinical practice guidelines in Australia, as well as describing trends in quality indicators such as the use of evidence and the disclosure of competing interests.

The 2013 report is the most comprehensive to date, and shows that more than 130 Australian guideline developers produced 937 guidelines between 2005 and 2012. Of these guidelines:

  • 40% provide guidance on a national health priority
  • 22% are developed by state and territory governments
  • 4% are issued and/or approved by NHMRC
  • 20% are evidence documented
  • 14% contain evidence of consumer involvement
  • 11% contain published declarations of competing interests

The NHMRC guideline reports highlight the considerable investment in guideline production in Australia. They reinforce the need for better coordination to ensure that Australian clinicians and consumers have access to current, high quality, relevant guidelines in areas of identified need.

Page reviewed: 20 January, 2014