Clinical Practice Guidelines

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) advocates for the development and use of patient-centered, evidence-based clinicial practice guidelines tht adhere to principles based on the National Academy of Medicine Standards for Trustworthy Guidelines. Furthermore, the AAFP may participate with other medical organizations in the development of clinical practice guidelines when the appropriate criteria are met.

Clinical Practice Guidelines:

  • Should be informed by an independent systematic review of the evidence and provide an adequate
        assessment of the benefits and harms.
  • Should follow a rigorous and evidence-based methodology with the strength of evidence for each
        recommendation explicitly stated.
  • Should follow a sound, transparent methodology with limited potential for financial and intellectual
        bias.
  • Should be feasible, measurable and achievable.
  • Should be patient-centered, ideally with a patient or patient representative assisting with
        development of the guideline.
  • When determining who should provide care, should emphasize appropriate specific competencies
        rather than a clinician’s specialty designation.
  • Should undergo an external review that includes the relevant stakeholders.
  • Should include a process for review and updating to maintain currency.

Clinical practice guidelines serve as a framework to provide guidance for clinical decisions and evidence-based best practices, but cannot substitute for the individual clinical judgment brought to each clinical situation by the patient’s family physician.

Clinical practice guidelines should reflect the best understanding of the science of medicine at the time of publication, but should be used with the clear understanding that continued research may result in new knowledge and changes to the recommendations.

To be effective, clinical practice guideline recommendations must be implemented. When implemented in the clinical setting, clinicians should prioritize those recommendations that have the strongest supporting evidence and the greatest impact on the patient population’s morbidity and mortality. Clinical performance measures may be developed from clinical practice guidelines and used in quality improvement initiatives. Research should be conducted on how to effectively implement clinical practice guidelines and the impact of their use as quality measures. (1995) (2018 COD)