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Clinical practice guidelines:
useful when they are of high quality

Prescrire assesses the quality and consistency of the guidelines published by France’s main health authority, the Haute autorité de santé (HAS), applying an explicit marking system based on internationally recognised assessment criteria.

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of "recommendations" and "clinical practice guidelines" of all kinds. While some of them are sound and useful for health professionals, others are less so. Some should even be disregarded and are to be avoided.

In 2007 Prescrire started to analyse the clinical practice guidelines produced by France’s main health authority, the HAS, using a rigorous, transparent methodology and a qualitative analysis of the argument and recommendations.

The HAS’s clinical practice guidelines need to be improved in several ways to be truly of value. The working parties should systematically include representatives from across the board, i.e. service users and health professionals; and members’ conflicts of interest should be disclosed. The quality of the summary sheets addressed only to caregivers must be improved as they are often inadequate and contradict other guidelines.

The HAS label in itself is not a sufficient guarantee of quality information. Method and content must be faultless.

©Prescrire October 2008

Source: "Juger les guides de la HAS dans leur globalité". Rev Prescrire 2008; 28 (299): 706-708.

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