Researchers develop tool to help doctors determine usefulness of clinical guidelines

Male doctor in white lab coat
Clinicians are faced with a plethora of guidelines, but evaluation tools used to rate those guidelines can be difficult to apply. (Getty/Saklakova)

Researchers have come up with an eight-item checklist to help physicians identify clinical guidelines they can use in their practices.

Clinicians are faced with a plethora of guidelines, according to a study published in Annals of Family Medicine, but evaluation tools used to rate those guidelines can be difficult to apply.

So researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine in Massachusetts wanted to develop a simple, easy-to use checklist for clinicians to identify trustworthy, relevant and useful practice guidelines. The result of those efforts was a new tool dubbed G-TRUSTor the Guideline Trustworthiness, Relevance and Utility Scoring Tool.

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The researchers note that they obtained consensus of experts in evidence-based medicine and guideline developers to create the checklist.

“In every medical specialty, physicians are required to review multiple sets of practice guidelines to determine their usefulness for a specific patient’s treatment. Such tools are often developed primarily for research and further guideline development rather than direct clinical application,” lead author Allen Shaughnessy, Pharm.D., a Tufts professor, said in an announcement.

RELATED: Primary care doctors may struggle to find high-quality evidence to support clinical decisions

The tool helps clinicians arrive at a determination of whether guidelines are of high quality and useful to them. For instance, it looks at factors such as whether guidelines were developed with an independent research analyst or methodologist as part of the process to avoid conflicts of interest. Researchers said the checklist identified 92% of what were considered low-quality guidelines and disqualified many high-quality guidelines because of a stricter definition of trustworthiness.

The tool is available from the study authors.

Many primary care doctors are shifting toward evidence-based practice, but they may have trouble finding the evidence they need to guide clinical decisions, according to a study released earlier this year.

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