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Developing clinical practice guidelines: target audiences, identifying topics for guidelines, guideline group composition and functioning and conflicts of interest

Martin P Eccles1, Jeremy M Grimshaw23, Paul Shekelle45*, Holger J Schünemann6 and Steven Woolf7

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Baddiley-Clark Building, Richardson Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4AX, UK

2 Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, ON, Canada

3 Department of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada

4 RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, 90407, USA

5 Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles, CA, 90073, USA

6 Departments of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada

7 Department of Family Medicine and Center on Human Needs, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA

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Implementation Science 2012, 7:60  doi:10.1186/1748-5908-7-60

Published: 4 July 2012


Clinical practice guidelines are one of the foundations of efforts to improve health care. In 1999, we authored a paper about methods to develop guidelines. Since it was published, the methods of guideline development have progressed both in terms of methods and necessary procedures and the context for guideline development has changed with the emergence of guideline clearing houses and large scale guideline production organisations (such as the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence). It therefore seems timely to, in a series of three articles, update and extend our earlier paper. In this first paper we discuss: the target audience(s) for guidelines and their use of guidelines; identifying topics for guidelines; guideline group composition (including consumer involvement) and the processes by which guideline groups function and the important procedural issue of managing conflicts of interest in guideline development.