HIQA publishes a review of processes for updating Clinical Guidelines

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published its systematic review on the processes used internationally to update Clinical Guidelines.

This review was undertaken at the request of the National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC) and was part-funded by the Health Research Board. 

Clinical guidelines are recommendations to support practitioner and patient decisions about appropriate health care across the entire clinical pathway from diagnosis to treatment and will often include recommendations regarding rehabilitation and follow-up care. They are based on current evidence and evaluate the benefits and harms related to the recommendations. As clinical guidelines are based on current knowledge, they will usually need to be updated to ensure they are up-to-date. In Ireland, national clinical guidelines published by the NCEC are currently updated every three years. 

Updating clinical guidelines is time-consuming and resource-intensive. While most organisations use pre-defined time periods, there has been a gradual move away from this method to instead update guidelines based on the volume of new research published, the clinical burden, economic impact and the resources available.

HIQA’s review covers the last ten years and included 15 handbooks from international organisations who produce guidelines. We found the terminology and definitions used internationally are not standardised, and those who produce methods guidance should consider providing more comprehensive guidance for updating clinical guidelines. 

Michelle O'Neill, HIQA's Deputy Director of Health Technology Assessment, said: "Our findings will support the NCEC to optimise resources when they review their current methodologies for updating clinical guidelines."

The full report can be found on our website, www.hiqa.ie.


Further information:
 Marty Whelan, Head of Communications & Stakeholder Engagement
 01 814 7480/085 805 5202, mwhelan@hiqa.ie

Notes to Editor:

•    The National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC) was established by the Minister for Health in September 2010.
•    The NCEC prioritises and quality assures National Clinical Guidelines in Ireland and provide methodological guidance for guideline developers.
•    In Ireland, the NCEC advises updating National Clinical Guidelines every three years, recognising three types of update full, partial and rapid.
•    A full update is when the content, questions and recommendations within a guideline are entirely updated.
•    This research was part-funded by the Health Research Board (HRB) for the HRB-Collaboration in Ireland for Clinical Effectiveness Reviews (HRB-CICER 2016-1871). The HRB supports excellent research that improves people's health, patient care, and health service delivery. The HRB aims to ensure that new knowledge is created and used in policy and practice. In doing so, the HRB supports health system innovation and creates new enterprise opportunities.