Desirable Attributes of Practice Guidelines

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) asserts that clinical practice guidelines that possess eight desirable attributes are more likely to be perceived as trustworthy, usable, and effective in achieving desired health outcomes. According to the IOM, good practice guidelines have the following characteristics:

• Valid: supported by strong scientific evidence linking recommendations to outcomes

• Reliable or reproducible: prepared using procedures and decision rules that would lead different experts to the same conclusions based on the same evidence

• Applicable: useful in populations that potential users would consider relevant to their practices

• Flexible: allowing for practitioner judgment and patient preferences

• Clear: presented in unambiguous language and easy-to-follow logic

• Multidisciplinary: prepared with input from relevant disciplines and stakeholders

• Up to date: reflecting the most recent evidence

• Documented: published along with explicit statements on assumptions, process, rationale, evidence, and decision rules

The IOM has published a document to be used in assessing the quality of published practice guidelines on the basis of these eight attributes (Field and Lohr 1992).

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