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Guideline adaptation: an approach to enhance efficiency in guideline development and improve utilisation


Background Developing and updating high-quality guidelines requires substantial time and resources. To reduce duplication of effort and enhance efficiency, we developed a process for guideline adaptation and assessed initial perceptions of its feasibility and usefulness.

Methods Based on preliminary developments and empirical studies, a series of meetings with guideline experts were organised to define a process for guideline adaptation (ADAPTE) and to develop a manual and a toolkit made available on a website ( Potential users, guideline developers and implementers, were invited to register and to complete a questionnaire evaluating their perception about the proposed process.

Results The ADAPTE process consists of three phases (set-up, adaptation, finalisation), 9 modules and 24 steps. The adaptation phase involves identifying specific clinical questions, searching for, retrieving and assessing available guidelines, and preparing the draft adapted guideline. Among 330 registered individuals (46 countries), 144 completed the questionnaire. A majority found the ADAPTE process clear (78%), comprehensive (69%) and feasible (60%), and the manual useful (79%). However, 21% found the ADAPTE process complex. 44% feared that they will not find appropriate and high-quality source guidelines.

Discussion A comprehensive framework for guideline adaptation has been developed to meet the challenges of timely guideline development and implementation. The ADAPTE process generated important interest among guideline developers and implementers. The majority perceived the ADAPTE process to be feasible, useful and leading to improved methodological rigour and guideline quality. However, some de novo development might be needed if no high quality guideline exists for a given topic.

  • Practice guideline
  • adaptation
  • evidence based medicine
  • guideline adherence
  • quality of healthcare
  • clinical practice guidelines
  • culture
  • guideline
  • healthcare quality improvement

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