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Evidence-Based Medicine: Practice Guidelines

What are Practice Guidelines?

"A set of recommendations defining conditions for using or not using available interventions in clinical or public health practice. Practice guidelines may be evidence-based and referred to as evidence-based guidelines or evidence-based recommendations." (Riegelman, R.K. (2005). Studying a study & testing a test: How to read the medical evidence. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.)

In other words, practice guidelines are sets of evidence-based, systematically developed recommendations for health care.

Practice Guideline Resources

The following resources provide access to practice guidelines, which are based on the latest evidence. Many practice guidelines include ratings of the level of evidence for each recommendation for prevention or treatment. Level of evidence is based on the type of study that supports the recommendation, from case reports and editorials on the low end up to systematic reviews on the high end. For more information on levels of evidence, please refer to the Types of Studies guide.

Appraising Practice Guidelines

Practice Guidelines in PubMed

Searches in PubMed can be limited to display only Practice Guidelines. After performing a search in PubMed, click "More..." under Article types in the filters menu, select "Practice Guidelines" from the pop-up list, and click Show. Note that this does not actually filter the results yet. To filter the results, now click "Practice Guidelines" so it displays in bold. You should now see that your results list is much shorter and restricted to Practice Guidelines only.

PubMed interface

Practice Guidelines in MEDLINE

Searches in MEDLINE can also be limited to display only Practice Guidelines. On the main search screen under Limits, scroll to "Practice Guidelines" in the Publication Types. Select this from the list and then proceed with your search.

MedLine interface

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