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Br J Gen Pract. 2003 Sep;53(494):690-6.

Developing primary care review criteria from evidence-based guidelines: coronary heart disease as a model.

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Public Health, ScHARR, University of Sheffield, Regent Court, 30 Regent St, Sheffield S1 4DA.



National Health Service (NHS) initiatives such as Clinical Governance, National Service Frameworks and the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) clinical guidelines programme create demand for tools to enable performance review by healthcare professionals. Ideally such tools should enable clinical teams to assess quality of care and highlight areas of good practice or where improvement is needed. They should also be able to be used to demonstrate progress towards goals and promote quality, while not unnecessarily increasing demand on limited resources or weakening professional control.


To formulate and evaluate a method for developing, from clinical guidelines, evidence-based review criteria that are proritised, useful and relevant to general practices assessing quality of care for the primary care management of coronary heart disease (CHD).


A two-stage study comprising, first, a review of available evidence-based guidelines for CHD and, second, the definition and prioritization of associated review criteria from the most highly rated guidelines.


Primary healthcare teams in England.


Using structured methods, evidence-based clinical guidelines for CHD were identified and appraised to ensure their suitability as the basis for developing review criteria. Recommendations common to a number of guidelines were priortszid by a panel of general practitioners to develop review criteria suitable for use in primary care.


A standardised method has been developed for constructing evidence-based review criteria from clinical guidelines. A limited, prioritized set of review criteria was developed for the primary care management of CHD. This was distributed around the NHS through the Royal College of General Practitioners for use by primary care teams across the United Kingdom.


Developing useful, evidence-based review criteria is not a straightforward process, partly because of a lack of consistency and clarity in guidelines currently available. A method was developed which accommodated these limitations and which can be applied to the development and evaluation of review criteria from guidelines for other conditions.

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