Friday, April 10, 2020

Rapid Guidelines in GRADE Pt. II: Rapid Recs in the Real World

In Part I of our series on rapid guidelines, we discussed the utility and terminology of rapid recommendations: those recommendations made in response to an urgent public health issue with timeframes ranging from a few short hours up to three months' time.

Who develops rapid guidelines?

In the first of a three-part series on rapid guidance published in 2018, Kowalski and colleagues conducted a systematic survey of the methodologies and processes of rapid guideline-producing organizations. Nomenclature used to identify these documents varied by organization, from “rapid advice guideline” to “interim guidance” to “short clinical guideline.” While the quality of these documents as assessed with the AGREE II tool was variable, it was greater in documents from the WHO and NICE than it was for the CDC or other smaller organizations. While NICE guidelines were of higher quality as assessed with the domains of AGREE II, they took substantially more time to develop than those from WHO.

It's important to note that while terminology differs between organizations, the word "interim" has been used to connote a response to an emergent public health issue with shorter time frames than a rapid guideline - typically on the order of 1-3 weeks. 

AGREE II domain score range (lowest – highest)
timeline (from manual)
Rapid advice guideline
54 - 92
1-3 months
Short clinical guideline
81 - 94
11-13 months
Interim guidance
10 - 82
Not reported
Interim guidelines, interim position statement, clinical guidelines
21 - 67
Not reported

Common Challenges and Facilitators to Rapid Guideline Development

While both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) reported the use of a systematic review of the evidence to guide recommendations, common issues among developers included a lack of reporting on the management of conflict of interest, external review, and of the process for the drafting of recommendation.

In follow-up qualitative interviews with guideline-developing staff from WHO, participants cited a lack of adequate staffing, monetary resources, and evidence as key obstacles to the development of rapid guidelines. While the development of a systematic review is likely one of the more time-consuming elements of a rapid guideline process, most participants agreed that it is a fundamental part of developing trustworthy guidance that should not be skipped if possible. 

Participants also indicated that the external/peer review process can add unwanted time to the development of rapid guidelines. To this effect, developers can consider limiting the reach of peer review to the final draft only as well as reducing the ability to drastically change recommendations in a way that would require a reconvention of the guideline panel. Virtual conferencing technology was named as a facilitator to developing guidelines on a quicker schedule by reducing the need for face-to-face meetings. 

For a checklist to guide the development of rapid recommendations, see the G-I-N/McMaster checklist extension for rapid guidelines.

Kowalski, S.C., Morgan, R.L., Falavigna, M. et al. Development of rapid guidelines: 1. Systematic survey of current practices and methods. Health Res Policy Sys 16, 61 (2018).

Manuscript available at the publisher's website here.  

Florez, I.D., Morgan, R.L., Falavigna, M. et al. Development of rapid guidelines: 2. A qualitative study with WHO guideline developers. Health Res Policy Sys 16, 62 (2018).

Manuscript available at the publisher's website here.