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The process of developing evidence-based guidance in medicine and public health: a qualitative study of views from the inside.

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Atkins, Lou 
Smith, Jonathan A 
Kelly, Michael P 
Michie, Susan 


BACKGROUND: There has been significant investment in developing guidelines to improve clinical and public health practice. Though much is known about the processes of evidence synthesis and evidence-based guidelines implementation, we know little about how evidence presented to advisory groups is interpreted and used to form practice recommendations or what happens where evidence is lacking. This study investigates how members of advisory groups of NICE (National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence) conceptualize evidence and experience the process. METHODS: Members of three advisory groups for acute physical, mental and public health were interviewed at the beginning and end of the life of the group. Seventeen were interviewed at both time points; five were interviewed just once at time one; and 17 were interviewed only once after guidance completion. Using thematic and content analysis, interview transcripts were analysed to identify the main themes. RESULTS: Three themes were identified:1. What is the task? Different members conceptualized the task differently; some emphasized the importance of evidence at the top of the quality hierarchy while others emphasized the importance of personal experience.2. Who gets heard? Managing the diversity of opinion and vested interests was a challenge for the groups; service users were valued and as was the importance of fostering good working relationships between group members.3. What is the process? Group members valued debate and recognized the need to marshal discussion; most members were satisfied with the process and output. CONCLUSIONS: Evidence doesn't form recommendations on its own, but requires human judgement. Diversity of opinion within advisory groups was seen as key to making well-informed judgments relevant to forming recommendations. However, that diversity can bring tensions in the evaluation of evidence and its translation into practice recommendations.



Advisory Committees, Concept Formation, Evidence-Based Medicine, Humans, Public Health, Qualitative Research, United Kingdom

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Implement Sci

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC