Development and use of clinical guidelines

Osborne, Sonya ORCID: and Webster, Joan (2010) Development and use of clinical guidelines. In: Using evidence to guide nursing practice. Churchill Livingstone, Chatswood, NSW, Australia, pp. 59-73. ISBN 978-0-7295-3950-0


The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of the development and use of clinical guidelines as a tool for decision making in clinical practice. Nurses have always developed and used tools to guide clinical decision making related to interventions in practice. Since Florence Nightingale (Nightingale 1860) gave us ‘notes’ on nursing in the late 1800s, nurses have continued to use tools, such as standards, policies and procedures, protocols, algorithms, clinical pathways and clinical guidelines, to assist them in making appropriate decisions about patient care that eventuate in the best desired patient outcomes. Clinical guidelines have enjoyed growing popularity as a comprehensive tool for synthesising clinical evidence and information into user-friendly recommendations for practice. Historically, clinical guidelines were developed by individual experts or groups of experts by consensus, with no transparent process for the user to determine the validity and reliability of the recommendations. The acceptance of the evidence-based practice (EBP) movement as a paradigm for clinical decision making underscores the imperative for clinical guidelines to be systematically developed and based on the best available research evidence. Clinicians are faced with the dilemma of choosing from an abundance of guidelines of variable quality, or developing new guidelines. Where do you start? How do you find an existing guideline to fit your practice? How do you know if a guideline is evidence-based, valid and reliable? Should you apply an existing guideline in your practice or develop a new guideline? How do you get clinicians to use the guidelines? How do you know if using the guideline will make any difference in care delivery or patient outcomes? Whatever the choice, the challenge lies in choosing or developing a clinical guideline that is credible as a decision-making tool for the delivery of quality, efficient and effective care. This chapter will address the posed questions through an exploration of the ins and outs of clinical guidelines, from development to application to evaluation.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2021 03:25
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2021 05:25
Uncontrolled Keywords: clinical guidelines
Fields of Research (2008): 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1110 Nursing > 111099 Nursing not elsewhere classified
Fields of Research (2020): 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4205 Nursing > 420599 Nursing not elsewhere classified

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