What are practice guidelines?
Also known as clinical practice guidelines (CPGs), practice guidelines are produced by different health-care organizations and professional bodies at the local, regional or national level. These guidelines address a variety of medical issues and conditions. Although practice guidelines provide practice recommendations based on a systematic review of the research, guidelines produced by different organizations may make different recommendations or they may not be valid.
Currently, there is no search engine that searches all guidelines. Below is a listing of guideline resources, some are generic and some have a specialized focus. These resources are good starting points in identifying relevant guidelines.
National Guildeline Clearinghouse - START HERE
The National Guildeline Clearinghouse (NGC) is a comprehensive and searchable database of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines and related documents produced by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. NGC provides guideline summaries and links to some full-text guidelines and ordering information for print copies.
You can register at the site at no cost to receive a weekly e-mail from the NGC listing titles. Links to new and updated guidelines are included.
Searching features in NGC:
- Search by keyword
- Browse the site to find guidelines linked to a particular term derived from Mesh (Medical Subject Headings), the thesaurus in PubMed
- Use the "detailed search" for specific search queries
Finding Guidelines in Databases
PubMed was developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the National Library of Medicine (NLM), located at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). PubMed provides web access to bibliographic information, which is drawn primarily from MEDLINE, PreMEDLINE, HealthSTAR, as well as publisher-Supplied citations.
Steps to search for practice guidelines in PubMed:
- Type the topic (such as a condition, symptom, or clinical procedure) in the search box.
- Click on the "Limits" tab and check the box next to "Practice Guideline" under the section labeled "Type of Article"
CINAHL is the online version of the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature. It provides indexing for over 3,000 nursing, allied health, biomedical, and consumer health journals. Additional items indexed include nursing dissertations, selected conference proceedings, standards of practice, educational software, audiovisuals, and book chapters. Evidence Based Care Sheets and Quick Lessons are also included.
Steps to search for practice guidelines in CINAHL:
- Type the topic (such as a condition, symptom, or clinical procedure) in the search box on the Advanced Search page.
- If you already know the name of the guideline, do a title search.
- Select "Practice Guidelines" from the "Publication Type" menu in the Advanced Search or Limits section.
Clinical Key is a comprehensive online clinical information resource with textbooks, journals, drug information, practice guidelines, and other resources. Clinical Key includes guideline updates.
Searching features in Clinical Key:
- Click on the "Practice Guidelines" menu in the top toolbar to search for guidelines
- Search by authoring organization, specialty, or topic
Organizations that Produce Guidelines
The NIH is composed of 27 Institutes and Centers and is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research.
Steps to search for practice guidelines within NIH's Institutes:
- Select the Institute that pertains to your topic, e.g. the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
- Often, you can find practice guidelines by searching the websites of the Institutes within the National Institutes of Health network. Try using each website's "Search" feature to look for "clinical practice guidelines", "practice guidelines", or "guidelines".
Evidence-based guidelines on many topics relating to internal medicine.
Royal College of Nursing (RCN)
The RCN collaborates with other organizations to create clinical practice guidelines.
The RNAO provides free nursing best practice guidelines on selected topics and access to other documents in English and French, some guidelines can be downloaded. RNAO is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario, Canada.
HSTAT is a free searchable collection of large, full-text clinical practice guidelines, technology assessments, quick-reference guides for clinicians, consumer health brochures, evidence reports, and health information.
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