Formal recommendations or principles to assist with patient care for specific clinical circumstances. Guidelines are issued by professional organizations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations (e.g., American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, World Health Organization, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force).
Guidelines promote quality and effectiveness of health care services and procedures. Development of guidelines is based on extensive and systematic review of the literature to provide the evidence to support recommendations. Guidelines can serve as helpful evidence of translational research efforts that translate into improved health care services and procedures.
Advice from authors on searching for information:
Groups such as government agencies (federal, state, and local), institutions, professional societies, governing boards, vendors, or expert panels issue guidelines. Guidelines are also produced by vendors not affiliated with a governmental agency or specialty organization. One example of this type of guideline is the Evidence-Based Care Sheets produced by Current Index to Nursing and Allied Health Information (CINAHL). The Sheets include a list of references used to support the guidelines.
Review of guidelines is required to locate evidence that findings from research were used to support the implementation of a guideline. Most guidelines contain references to the literature to support the recommendations noted in the guideline.
Start with the Data Sources to find guidelines for a specific disease, disorder, or condition. Search using the keywords related to the topic, the title of the research study, and/or name of the researcher. Also, check the websites of sponsoring groups or professional societies that convene to develop guidelines.
Resources & Data
Organizations, repositories, websites, and other sources where you can find more information:
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is the lead Federal agency charged with improving the safety and quality of America’s health care system. AHRQ develops the knowledge, tools, and data needed to improve the health care system and help Americans, health care professionals, and policymakers make informed health decisions. In doing so, AHRQ sponsors the development of guidelines, reports, toolkits, and other materials.
- ECRI Guidelines Trust. ECRI Guidelines Trust now provides summaries of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. A free account is required to search Guidelines Trust. See FAQs and Search Tips for more information.
- National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC). The National Guideline Clearinghouse is a public resource for summaries of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. See NGC Help & About for guidance. This resource was removed as of July 16, 2018, due to a lack of federal funding.
- PubMed/MEDLINE. PubMed provides free access to MEDLINE, the NLM database of indexed citations and abstracts to medical, nursing, dental, veterinary, health care, and preclinical sciences journal articles. See PubMed Help for guidance.
Challenges you may encounter while searching for information:
There is no single resource for clinical guidelines. Access to self-reported researcher or administrative/in-house data may be required to locate documentation.
Articles, books, and other publications in translational science using the indicator:
- Cheah TS. The impact of clinical guidelines and clinical pathways on medical practice: Effectiveness and medico-legal aspects. Ann Acad Med Singapore. 1998 Jul;27(4):533-9.
- Murad MH. Clinical practice guidelines: A primer on development and dissemination. Mayo Clin Proc. 2017 Mar;92(3):423-433. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2017.01.001.