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How equity is addressed in clinical practice guidelines: a content analysis

05 Dec 2014

Objectives

Considering equity into guidelines presents methodological challenges. This study aims to qualitatively synthesise the methods for incorporating equity in clinical practice guidelines (CPGs).

Setting

Content analysis of methodological publications.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies

Methodological publications were included if they provided checklists/frameworks on when, how and to what extent equity should be incorporated in CPGs.

Data sources

We electronically searched MEDLINE, retrieved references, and browsed guideline development organisation websites from inception to January 2013. After study selection by two authors, general characteristics and checklists items/framework components from included studies were extracted. Based on the questions or items from checklists/frameworks (unit of analysis), content analysis was conducted to identify themes and questions/items were grouped into these themes.

Primary outcomes

The primary outcomes were methodological themes and processes on how to address equity issues in guideline development.

Results

8 studies with 10 publications were included from 3405 citations. In total, a list of 87 questions/items was generated from 17 checklists/frameworks. After content analysis, questions were grouped into eight themes (‘scoping questions’, ‘searching relevant evidence’, ‘appraising evidence and recommendations’, ‘formulating recommendations’, ‘monitoring implementation’, ‘providing a flow chart to include equity in CPGs’, and ‘others: reporting of guidelines and comments from stakeholders’ for CPG developers and ‘assessing the quality of CPGs’ for CPG users). Four included studies covered more than five of these themes. We also summarised the process of guideline development based on the themes mentioned above.

Conclusions

For disadvantaged population-specific CPGs, eight important methodological issues identified in this review should be considered when including equity in CPGs under the guidance of a scientific guideline development manual.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open