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.