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Finding Practice Guidelines: Home

Practice guidelines provide recommendations on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions.

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

Organizations that Produce Guidelines

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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:

  1. Select the Institute that pertains to your topic, e.g. the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
  2. 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".

American College of Physicians

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.

Registered Nurse's Association of Ontario (RNAO)

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.

Health Services/Technology Assessment Text (HSTAT)

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.

VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guidelines (U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs)

Developed and produced by the Office of Quality and Performance in the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

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