To be trustworthy guidelines need to be of high quality and reflect international best practice in guideline development. Ensuring that these criteria are met requires a clearly defined set of standards, together with appropriate tools to help people comply with the standards.
Table of contents
The 2016 NHMRC standards for guidelines have been developed for guidelines issued or approved by NHMRC but can be used by all developers of evidence based guidelines.
Practical advice on how to apply the standards is being published as self-contained modules on the ‘Guidelines for Guidelines’ website. To be informed of public consultations on future modules, register your interest at the NHMRC Subscription Service.
1. To be relevant and useful for decision making guidelines will:
1.1 Address a health issue of importance
1.2. Clearly state the purpose of the guideline and the context in which it will be applied
1.3. Be informed by public consultation
1.4. Be feasible to implement.
2. To be transparent guidelines will make publicly available:
2.1. The details of all processes and procedures used to develop the guideline
2.2. The source evidence
2.3. The declarations of interest of members of the guideline development group and information on how any conflicts of interest were managed
2.4. All sources of funding for the guideline.
3. The guideline development group will:
3.1. Be composed of an appropriate mix of expertise and experience, including relevant end users
3.2. Have clearly defined, documented processes for reaching consensus.
4. To identify and manage conflicts of interest guideline developers will:
4.1. Require all interests of all guideline development group members to be declared
4.2. Establish a process for determining if a declared interest represents a conflict of interest, and how a conflict of interest will be managed.
5. To be focused on health and related outcomes guidelines will:
5.1. Be developed around explicitly defined clinical or public health questions
5.2. Address outcomes that are relevant to the guideline’s expected end users
5.3. Clearly define the outcomes considered to be important to the person/s who will be affected by the decision, and prioritise these outcomes.
6. To be evidence informed guidelines will:
6.1. Be informed by well conducted systematic reviews
6.2. Consider the body of evidence for each outcome (including the quality of that evidence) and other factors that influence the process of making recommendations including benefits and harms, values and preferences, resource use and acceptability.
6.3. Be subjected to appropriate peer review.
7. To make actionable recommendations guidelines will:
7.1. Discuss the options for action
7.2. Clearly articulate what the recommended course of action is, and when it should be taken
7.3. Clearly articulate what the intervention is so it can be implemented
7.4. Clearly link each recommendation to the evidence that supports it
7.5. Grade the strength of each recommendation.
8. To be up-to-date guidelines will:
8.1. Ensure that the recommendation is based on an up-to-date body of evidence
8.2. Propose a date by which the evidence and the guideline should be updated. This may be specific to each recommendation.
9. To be accessible guidelines will:
9.1. Be easy to find
9.2. Ideally be free of charge to the end user
9.3. Be clearly structured, easy to navigate and in plain English
9.4. Be available online.