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Guideline Process

How Does ACP Develop Clinical Recommendations?

If you thought that the ACP Guidelines were produced "by a bunch of old guys sitting around a board room," you're not alone in this misperception. ACP Clinical Practice Guidelines, Guidance Statements, and Best Practice Advice papers are produced through a team effort involving the Clinical Policy staff, the committee known as the Clinical Guidelines Committee (CGC), and expert scientific collaborators. The mission of the CGC is to oversee the development of guidelines that will improve the practice of medicine. Ongoing goals of the committee are to improve the dissemination, implementation and evaluation of practice guidelines and to continue collaborating with other organizations on joint guidelines. For more information on the development of ACP's Clinical Practice Guidelines and Guidance Statements, please see our recently published methodology paper.

History of Guideline Development at ACP

ACP has been producing clinical practice guidelines since 1981. Guideline development started as a three-year grant called the Clinical Efficacy Assessment Project (CEAP). The goals were:

  1. To assemble and review the clinical literature on a specified topic;
  2. To identify the best scientific papers; and
  3. To analyze, reformulate, and present such information so that practitioners can readily determine the usefulness of diagnostic tests, procedures, or treatments.

The initial charge from CEAP was to evaluate medical advances. Early ACP guidelines addressed diagnostic tests and technologies. These guidelines focused on topics developed through surveys of the ACP membership and were chosen based on the interest of the internal medicine community. Because of CEAP's success, the program was given permanent status at ACP, and the project is carried out under the aegis of the CGC. Today, guidelines are developed by the CGC and the staff of the Clinical Policy Department at ACP.

More about CGC