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Prev Med. 2003 May;36(5):519-24.

Status of practice guidelines in the United States: CDC guidelines as an example.

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  • 1Columbia University School of Nursing, 630 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA. ELL23@columbia.edu



Clinical practice guidelines have proliferated in the past several decades, starting with only a handful in the 1980s to over 1000 approved through The National Guideline Clearinghouse in 2002.


The purposes of this article to review research related to guideline adoption and impact and to make recommendations for assessing the outcomes of guidelines, using the CDC guideline process as an example.


Despite the national movement toward standardization of evidence-based practice, few studies have been conducted to assess the costs of guideline development and implementation, and some practice guidelines have been implemented without concomitant assessment on patient outcomes and costs and benefits of changes in care.


An immediate mandate is to ensure that when guidelines are promulgated, they include an evaluation plan, developed by the implementer of the guideline, which takes advantage of existing qualitative and quantitative data and programs (e.g., patient-centered care, quality assurance, risk management) not limited to expensive and sophisticated clinical trials.

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