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). The 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.

Since 2010 NHMRC has released annual reports on the characteristics of Australian clinical practice guidelines which provide information about who funds and develops clinical practice guidelines, and describe trends in important quality indicators such as the use of evidence and the disclosure of competing interests.

The 2014 report, the fourth and most comprehensive to date, reports on 1046 guidelines produced by more than 130 Australian guideline developers between 2005 and 2013.

Of these guidelines:

  • 41% provide guidance on a national health priority
  • 23% are developed by Australian state or territory governments
  • 5% are issued and/or approved by NHMRC
  • 22% document evidence of a structured literature search
  • 14% document evidence of consumer involvement
  • 12% 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.