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Evidence Based Practice (NUR 4169): Practice Guidelines

What are Practice Guidelines?

What are practice guidelines anyway?

"Practice guidelines are systematically developed statements to assist practitioner and patient decisions about appropriate health care for specific clinical circumstances."

Institute of Medicine. (1990). Clinical Practice Guidelines: Directions for a New Program, M.J. Field and K.N. Lohr (eds.) Washington, DC: National Academy Press. page 38.

The Purpose of Practice Guidelines

So, what's the fuss? Why do we need practice guidelines?
Good question! Put simply, practice guidelines serve to:

  • describe appropriate care based on the best available scientific evidence and broad consensus
  • reduce inappropriate variation in practice
  • provide a more rational basis for referral
  • provide a focus for continuing education
  • promote efficient use of resources
  • act as focus for quality control, including audit
  • highlight shortcomings of existing literature and suggest appropriate future research

From the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation's Clinical Practice Guidelines.

 

How to Locate Practice Guidelines

Okay, where do I find practice guidelines? 
Practice guidelines from various medical specialties are available via the Internet. When available they are a critical component of medical decision making, yet practice guidelines require time and analysis of best practices for their development, and not every medical condition or health issue is covered. (The alphabetical list below is a good place to start looking.)

Guideline Humor

Incentive for following practice guidelines:


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Further Readings on Practice Guidelines

   Practice Guidelines! How can I find out more about them? 

Ah! You must be a scholar! For a discussion of clinical practice guidelines, please refer to the following scholarly papers:

Practice Guideline Video

Produced by the Health Council of Canada, and obviously geared toward Canada, this video still gives an excellent overview of Practice Guidelines: what they are, the role they play in health care, how they are used, how they came about, and their relationship to EBP. At over five minutes, it's a longer video but still well worth watching. (Don't worry, the French parts are brief and have subtitles!)