During the 15th GRADE Guideline Development Workshop held virtually last month, the Evidence Foundation had the pleasure of welcoming three new scholars with the opportunity to attend the workshop free of charge. As part of the scholarship, each recipient presented to the workshop attendees about their current or proposed project related to evidence-based medicine and reducing bias in healthcare.
Razan Mansour, MD, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Kansas Medical Center, spoke about the challenges of navigating variabilities among published systematic reviews when developing clinical recommendations. Variability may emerge from differences between reviews regarding study inclusion criteria, risk of bias assessment, and the way data are presented. Most sources of variability, Dr. Mansour said, are difficult to explain, but a modified version of the A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) 2 tool can help identify common "red flags" and help to prioritize and identify the best systematic reviews off of which to base resulting clinical recommendations. Information from multiple higher-quality systematic reviews may be used, and data from individual studies may need to be extracted to paint a complete picture of the evidence.
Next, Reena Ragala, MOTR/L, spoke about her project as a Senior Evidence-Based Practice Analyst at the Medical University of South Carolina Value Institute. The Institute was established in 2012 to support MUSC's efforts to build the infrastructure to advance science and discovery through evidence-based practice. Starting in the spring/summer of 2022, Ragala will help lead guideline development "boot camps" though the Institute to train providers within rural health networks in the application of evidence-based guideline methodology. Through this process, Ragala hopes to empower rather than intimidate front-line staff and clinicians new to clinical guideline development.
"When using GRADE for diagnostic tests or guideline development, judgements or recommendations are based on patient outcomes, said Ragala. "GRADE doesn’t just look at the strength/quality of the evidence, but incorporates the feasibility, accuracy, bias, and benefit/harm to the patient to ultimately make recommendations."
Carolina Soledad, MD, MStat, PhD, spoke about the unique opportunities, challenges, and solutions within an aspect of guideline development that has gained great relevance in recent years: reaching consensus within the context of virtual meetings. Dr. Soledad, a junior methodologist within the European Society of Anesthesia and Intensive Care (ESAIC) Guidelines Committee, discussed the fact that while in-person meetings have several strengths - such as access to nonverbal cues such as body language and facial expression and shared context - virtual meetings also have unique benefits, such as cost savings and a reduced need to focus on logistics. In addition, they have become a necessity in the age of a global pandemic. To help address the unique questions surrounding virtual meetings - such as the optimal length and number of participants - Dr. Soledad developed a 33-item survey of anesthesiologists and intensivists involved in guideline development. The findings will help formulate best practices for improving the level of communication, engagement, and effectiveness of future virtual meetings.
According to Dr. Soledad, "This workshop gave me a peek into GRADEpro GDT software, and it turned out to be easier to use than I've thought!"
If you are interested in learning more about GRADE and attending the workshop as a scholarship recipient, applications for our upcoming workshop in Chicago, Illinois, are now open. The deadline to apply is March 31, 2022. Details can be found here.