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It is true that there are to date no empirical studies that investigate the relevance of individual evaluation criteria of guideline evaluation instruments with regard to the quality of care (1). Internationally there is widespread consensus about what characterizes a guideline of high methodological quality. Although the adequate use of guidelines can bring about changes in healthcare delivery, they are often not used in practice. The factors influencing this state of affairs are varied. Implementation research has adopted the notion that the successful dissemination and implementation of guidelines is more likely if the decided measures are tailored to previously identified barriers (2). So far, a definite conclusion as to how guidelines can be implemented in a target-oriented way cannot be reached. The current standard of knowledge can be improved by funding appropriate controlled studies. Such studies should include aspects of implementability (3) and the development of quality indicators in guideline development (4), as well as an evaluation of the guideline’s effectiveness. These aspects—which Petzold, Eberlein-Gonska, and Schmitt mentioned in their letter—have a crucial role in a comprehensive and detailed evaluation of guidelines and their implementation and realization in the scientific setting. In routine clinical practice, however, a comprehensive evaluation and the use of existing comprehensive instruments is often not possible for doctors. We aimed to explain (5) criteria from brief instruments that can be used to assess guidelines which enable the rapid and simple identification of guidelines, recognize potential biases, and make it easier to decide on using a guideline in clinical practice.

DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2016.0118b

Mag. rer. nat. Thomas Semlitsch

Institut für Allgemeinmedizin und evidenzbasierte Versorgungsforschung

Medizinische Universität Graz

thomas.semlitsch@medunigraz.at

Conflict of interest statement

The development of the mini-checklist for assessing the methodological quality of guidelines was part of the doctoral dissertation of Thomas Semlitsch at the Medical University of Graz and received financial funding from the Future Fund Styria.

The author declares that no conflict of interest exists.

1.
Siering U, Eikermann M, Hausner E, Hoffmann-Esser W, Neugebauer EA: Appraisal tools for clinical practice guidelines: a systematic review. PLoS One 2013; 8: e82915 CrossRef MEDLINE PubMed Central
2.
Wensing M, Bosch M, Grol R: Developing and selecting interventions for translating knowledge to action. CMAJ 2010; 182: E85-8 CrossRef MEDLINE PubMed Central
3.
Shiffman R, Dixon M, Brandt C, et al.: The GuideLine Implementability Appraisal (GLIA): development of an instrument to identify obstacles to guideline implementation. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2005, 5: 23 CrossRef MEDLINE PubMed Central
4.
Programm für Nationale VersorgungsLeitlinien von BÄK, KBV und AWMF (2009). Qualitätsindikatoren – Manual für Autoren. Berlin: Ärztliches Zentrum für Qualität in der Medizin, äzq Schriftenreihe; Band 36. www.aezq.de/mdb/edocs/pdf/schriftenreihe/schriftenreihe36.pdf.
5.
Semlitsch T, Blank WA, Kopp IB, Siering U, Siebenhofer A: Evaluating guidelines—a review of key quality criteria. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2015; 112: 471–8 VOLLTEXT
1. Siering U, Eikermann M, Hausner E, Hoffmann-Esser W, Neugebauer EA: Appraisal tools for clinical practice guidelines: a systematic review. PLoS One 2013; 8: e82915 CrossRef MEDLINE PubMed Central
2.Wensing M, Bosch M, Grol R: Developing and selecting interventions for translating knowledge to action. CMAJ 2010; 182: E85-8 CrossRef MEDLINE PubMed Central
3.Shiffman R, Dixon M, Brandt C, et al.: The GuideLine Implementability Appraisal (GLIA): development of an instrument to identify obstacles to guideline implementation. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2005, 5: 23 CrossRef MEDLINE PubMed Central
4.Programm für Nationale VersorgungsLeitlinien von BÄK, KBV und AWMF (2009). Qualitätsindikatoren – Manual für Autoren. Berlin: Ärztliches Zentrum für Qualität in der Medizin, äzq Schriftenreihe; Band 36. www.aezq.de/mdb/edocs/pdf/schriftenreihe/schriftenreihe36.pdf.
5.Semlitsch T, Blank WA, Kopp IB, Siering U, Siebenhofer A: Evaluating guidelines—a review of key quality criteria. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2015; 112: 471–8 VOLLTEXT

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