Clinical Practice Guidelines

Clinical practice guidelines are sets of recommendations that the AAFP develops, collaborates with external organizations to develop, or endorses for the care of patients with specific conditions.

The AAFP uses the following principles when developing clinical practice guidelines:

  • Rigorous, evidence-based methodology will be used, and the strength of evidence for each guideline will be explicitly stated.
  • Research should be conducted on how to effectively implement guidelines and on the impact of their use as quality measures.
  • Each guideline should be feasible, measurable, and achievable.
  • Quality performance measures should be reviewed by representatives of the physicians they will impact.
  • Clinical performance measures may be developed from guidelines and used in quality-improvement initiatives.
  • Guideline implementation should strive to include shared decision making between patient and physician, as well as patient preferences.
  • In the clinical setting, guideline implementation should be prioritized to those that have the strongest supporting evidence and the greatest impact on patient population morbidity and mortality.
  • Clinical practice guidelines from which quality performance measures have been developed should be updated at specific intervals, as new evidence is available.

Joint Development of Clinical Practice Guidelines With Other Organizations

When the appropriate criteria have been met, the AAFP collaborates with external medical organizations to develop comprehensive, evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. These guidelines provide recommendations for management, consultation, or specific competencies.