The U.S. Department for Health and Human Services’ “quick” asthma guidelines run 11 pages. For doctors juggling 30 patient visits a day, understanding these and other guidelines is a daunting exercise.
What patients and healthcare providers really need are “knowledge tools” that quickly compare treatment options, provide an overview of relevant medical debates and outline the uncertainties related to a patient’s healthcare condition, write the co-authors. For example, such a tool could illustrate the reality that the prostate specific antigen test also presents risks--in contrast with some patients’ understanding of the test.
“We’re undergoing a change in the way the public and physicians get medical information and make healthcare decisions,” says Glyn Elwyn, M.D., a professor at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, in an announcement. “We need tools that reflect the constant flow of multi-sourced information, yet are short and sweet and accurate.”
Not only are the number of clinical guidelines overwhelming, other problems with such guidelines include the following:
- Authors often have competing interests, which can lead to lack of credibility
- Conflicting guidance--due to researchers interpreting the evidence differently and, thus, drawing different conclusions--can lead to increased confusion
- Oversimplication--based on a single, well-defined disease state--might not lead to appropriate treatment plans for patients living with more than one chronic condition
- Time can be the enemy, since developing appropriate guidelines can take many years—and the guidelines thus become out of date.
- read the study abstract