CDC guidelines : improving the quality
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CDC guidelines : improving the quality

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    CDC GUIDELINES: Improving the Quality is a guide to improve the development processes, content, and value of CDC-sponsored practice guidelines. The guide presents “points to consider” and “recommendations” which should be given careful attention by CDC staff responsible for developing guidelines. To prepare the guide, a working group of CDC staff synthesized the best advice on guideline development methods available in published journal articles and reports. This summary describes the agency’s history with guideline development, each of 13 primary tasks associated with the guideline development process, and important “ points to consider” when developing practice guidelines. Table 1 associates each task in the CDC guideline development process with the participants and task-specific products.

    CDC develops a broad range of guidelines which offer advice to clinicians, public health practitioners, managed care organizations, and the public on how to improve the effectiveness and impact of public health interventions. Guidelines developed by CDC over the years generally have been highly regarded within and outside the health care and public health communities, and may frequently be considered the standard of preventive health care. CDC guidelines are currently developed by chartered advisory committees, ad hoc groups, and CDC staff. The processes used vary widely across topics which generally reflect the agency’s programmatic responsibilities. The rationale for recommendations ranges from expert opinion to “best available evidence” as determined by explicit rules of evidence.

    The authors recognize that a single approach to guideline development at CDC cannot accommodate all situations because of the tremendous range of topics, varying levels of scientific data, and urgency for development of some guidelines. However, CDC must do better for the following reasons. First, the process for developing the guidelines and the rationale for the recommendations are not always made clear to the user. Second, the format and content of CDC guidelines have never been standardized. Third, plans for disseminating the guidelines are sometimes not formulated in advance. Fourth, the extent to which CDC guidelines are followed varies greatly. Fifth, there is no standardized approach to assessing the impact of CDC guidelines; although many CDC programs have used surveillance systems, surveys, or other indicators to measure impact.

    Suggested citation: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Guidelines: Improving the Quality. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1996.

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