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Gibson D. Lewis Library Libguides

Clinical Practice Guidelines

What are Clinical Practice Guidelines? 

Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) "are statements that include recommendations intended to optimize patient care. They are informed by a systematic review of evidence and an assessment of the benefits and harms of alternative care options" (Institute of Medicine Committee on Standards for Developing Trustworthy Clinical Practice Guidelines, 2011).

This guide offers information on finding practice guidelines, using specific databases and websites, verifying, appraising, and resources for further reading.

How are they developed?

Clinical practice guidelines are developed from a need for better evidence and guidance in order to make informed, evidence-based healthcare decisions. Once the need is identified and the clinical problem is clearly defined, either:

  • Systematic reviews are developed (a team is assembled and they work together to identify, assess, and synthesize evidence) or,
  • Clinical practice guidelines are developed (a team is assembled and they use the highest levels of evidence (meta analyses, systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, etc.) while incorporating expert opinions and standard patient preferences)

At this point, healthcare providers are able to use CPGs to make the best decision possible for their patients. Usually, clinical practice guidelines are published by professional societies, academies, organizations, or associations. Below is a very distilled graphic demonstrating the process.