What are clinical guidelines?
Clinical guidelines aim to help health professionals and patients make the best decisions about treatment or care for a particular condition or situation. The guidelines are typically written in statement form by a reputable organization. The authors of guidelines review the research literature and take advice from experts to gather the current evidence on which to base the recomendations in a guideline. Doctors, nurses and other health care professionals are encouraged to follow clinical guidelines where appropriate.
Who writes clinical guidelines for the UK?
The main organisations in the UK involved in writing and publishing guidelines include:
- NICE - National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
- SIGN - Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network
- GAIN - Guidelines and Audit Implementation Network
- Professional Organisations and Royal Colleges
Doctors from patient.info have collated a directory of clinical guidelines that have been recently published by the above organisations and similar reputable organisations. Links to the online publications of these guidelines can be found in the A - Z index at the top of this page. Doctors from patient.info monitor the directory and links to new or revised guidelines are added as and when they are published.
Note: Not every patient or situation fits neatly into a guideline. A guideline may not cover every eventuality and each patient's circumstance needs to be taken into consideration when a treatment is decided upon. Some doctors are critical of guidelines that may be too restrictive in their recommendations. Some guidelines are controversial. For a fuller discussion on the pros and cons of guidelines, see the folowing series of articles written in the British Medical Journal.
- Potential benefits, limitations, and harms of clinical guidelines
- Developing guidelines
- Legal and political considerations of clinical practice guidelines
- Using clinical guidelines
- Guidelines for clinical guidelines
Guidelines from around the world
Sources of clinical guidelines written outside the UK include:
- National Guideline Clearinghouse - a US directory of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.
- New Zealand Guidelines Group - an independent society providing evidence-based technical assistance and clinical guidelines to healthcare organisations, government departments, etc.
- The Guidelines International Network - an international not-for-profit association of organisations and individuals involved in clinical practice guidelines.