Developing Clinical Practice Guidelines

Interested in Helping the AAFP Develop CPGs?

You can be part of the AAFP’s process for evaluating and developing CPGs.

Email to find out how.


As family physicians, we’re committed to providing patient-centered, evidence-based care for our patients. Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) can optimize this care by serving as a framework for clinical decisions and supporting best practices. Following evidence-based CPGs is also a key aspect of becoming a patient-centered medical home (PCMH).

But not all CPGs are created equal. That’s why the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) reviews guidelines developed by other organizations, endorsing those that meet criteria for methodological rigor, relevance to family medicine, and freedom from bias. The AAFP also develops CPGs, both independently and in cooperation with other organizations.

In this series of webcasts, Michael LeFevre, MD, describes the AAFP’s process for evaluating and developing evidence-based CPGs. You’ll learn more about how to conduct a systematic review, rate available evidence, write recommendations that can be implemented in practice, and assess the quality and usefulness of a clinical practice guideline.

Session One: Overview of Clinical Practice Guideline Development

Learning Objectives

  • Examine the history of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) role in their development.
  • Discuss who develops guidelines and the problems with many of them.
  • Describe the steps in the guideline development process.
  • Examine current standards that influence CPG development.

Watch the Presentation

Session Two: The Role of Evidence in Clinical Practice Guidelines

Learning Objectives

  • Describe what constitutes an evidence-based CPG.
  • Examine the importance and role of CPGs.
  • Learn how to assess the evidence included in a CPG.
  • Learn how to move from the evidence to recommendations.
  • Describe the role of guideline development group in CPG development.

Watch the Presentation

Session Three: Assessing Clinical Practice Guidelines Quality

Learning Objectives

  • Learn how to examine and rate a CPG.
  • Learn the process the AAFP uses to endorse CPGs.

Watch the Presentation

Session Four: Conducting and Reporting Systematic Reviews and Implementing Guidelines in Practice

Learning Objectives

  • Examine best practices for conducting and reporting a systematic review.
  • Examine ways in which guidelines can be written to be implementable in pratice.

Watch the Presentation

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Michael LeFevre, MD, MSPH, is the Future of Family Medicine professor and vice chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, Columbia. He has been on faculty at the university since 1984. As director of clinical services for the Department of Family and Community Medicine, he has administrative oversight of practices in six locations that have over 90,000 annual visits. He teaches residents and medical students in inpatient and outpatient settings. Dr. LeFevre also maintains an active practice across the full breadth of family medicine, including inpatient care and obstetrics (through 2012). Evidence-based medicine and clinical policies have been the focus of many of his academic endeavors. He is currently the co-vice chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and a member of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC 8).  He was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2011. He served as chief medical information officer for University of Missouri Health Care and directed electronic health record implementation across the system from 2002 through 2012. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering degree, a medical degree, and a Master of Science in Public Health degree from the University of Missouri.

Financial support provided by the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation.