Evaluation of national guidelines for bronchiolitis: AGREEments and controversies

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Abstract

Aim:

Bronchiolitis is a common respiratory illness and is a leading cause of hospitalisation in infancy. We aimed to appraise three recent national bronchiolitis guidelines produced by the Australasian Paediatric Research in Emergency Departments International Collaborative, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in the UK and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Methods:

A group of final-year medical students and one senior clinician used the AGREE II tool to appraise each guideline in two stages. First, two students appraised each guideline independently and presented their results. Second, two self-selected students met with the senior clinicians to review all scores to ensure completeness of the appraisal and consistency of AGREE II application.

Results:

The guidelines scored well overall, with particular strengths in the domains of clarity of presentation, scope and purpose and rigour of development. Comparison of the recommendations across each guideline demonstrated a high degree of consistency. Notable differences included recommendations for the role of palivizumab in prevention of bronchiolitis, the use of continuous pulse oximetry monitoring in the hospitalised patient and the value of respiratory virus testing.

Conclusions:

Our appraisal of bronchiolitis guidelines from three high-income countries demonstrated that they were of high quality, with substantial areas of agreement. Most aspects of clinical practice should be uniform for this common paediatric condition. Areas of guideline weakness were in the domains of applicability and editorial independence. We identified three areas of controversy where further research is needed to support stronger evidence-based recommendations.

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