BMJ Qual Saf 20:141-145 doi:10.1136/bmjqs.2010.040923
  • Original research

Sharing hard labour: developing a standard template for data summaries in guideline development

  1. S Twaddle2 on behalf of the Guidelines International Network (GIN) Working Group on Evidence Tables
  1. 1Haute Autorité de Santé, Saint-Denis la Plaine, France
  2. 2Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Dutch Institute for Healthcare Improvement CBO, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  4. 4Bazian, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Najoua Mlika-Cabanne, Haute Autorité de Santé, 2 av. du Stade de France, 93218 Saint-Denis La Plaine Cedex, France; n.mlikacabanne{at}
  1. Contributors NM-C and ST organised the workshops and summarised discussions. NM-C and ML contributed to the pilot test. All authors contributed to the interpretation of results and template production. NM-C drafted the paper and is its guarantor. All authors commented on the article, in particular RH, for important intellectual content and approved the final paper.

  • Accepted 21 July 2010
  • Published Online First 5 January 2011


Background A key objective of the Guidelines International Network (GIN) is to reduce duplication of effort. To address this objective, a working group was established to define a minimum dataset for inclusion in all evidence tables.

Methods A literature review was conducted to identify existing evidence tables, and GIN member organisations were asked to provide the tables they use. The results were used to develop a minimum dataset (template) for studies addressing intervention questions. The template was pilot-tested by a group of guideline developers and reviewed at GIN conferences.

Results The literature search yielded 65 articles. These dealt with reporting standards and trial quality (eg, CONSORT statement) rather than which data should be extracted from studies. However, the checklist items given were considered useful. Nineteen GIN members provided evidence tables; 17 tables were used for analysis. The number of items included in the tables ranged from 8 to 19, with several items common to all tables. Within individual items, the level of detail varied widely. The draught template included a majority of items relating to objective data. Pilot testing revealed that the median time to read a paper and complete the template was 2 h for a randomised controlled trial and 2½ h for a non-randomised, controlled intervention study. The median rating for both relevance and clarity of items was high.

Conclusion The template listing the items needed to summarise an interventional study is now available for large-scale testing by all organisations.


  • The GIN active Working Group members at the time of template design and testing (in alphabetical order): B Burnand, Unité d'évaluation des soins & Centre d'épidémiologie clinique, Institut Universitaire de Médecine sociale et Préventive, Switzerland; R Cook, Bazian, UK; H de Beer, Dutch Institute for Healthcare Improvement CBO, The Netherlands; R Harbour, Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network, UK; T Kaiser, Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, Germany; E Ketola, Current Care Guidelines—Finnish Medical Society Duodecim, Finland; J Komulainen, Current Care Guidelines—Finnish Medical Society Duodecim, Finland; R Kunz, Basel Institute for Clinical Epidemiology, Switzerland; M Laurence, Haute Autorité de Santé, France; N Mlika Cabanne, Haute Autorité de Santé, France; S Sadasivan, Ministry of Health, Malaysia; R Shiffman, Yale Center for Medical Informatics, USA; J Slutsky, Center for Outcomes and Evidence, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, USA; S Twaddle Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network, UK; C Whittington, National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, UK.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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