Methodology for ACOEM's Occupational Medicine Practice Guidelines—2017 Revision

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Methodology transparency is a core principle of high-quality clinical practice guideline development. Transparent, high-quality methods applied rigorously yield reproducible results and instill confidence in the user that the recommendations are made with the highest medical evidentiary support. Thus, transparency is a central value underlying criteria and methods published by multiple bodies which review quality of guidelines, including the US Institute of Medicine (IOM),1 and the international GRADE Working Group.2
The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) has published transparent, evidence-based practice guidelines for the treatment of common health disorders among workers since 1997.3,4 The continually updated methods used for evidence search, critical appraisal, synthesis, and recommendation development were documented in the introduction to each edition and in other publications.5,6 The ACOEM Guideline Methodology Committee published an updated methodology in 2008,7 which ACOEM has used in publishing newer guidelines.8,9
Since the 2008 update, a number of advances in creating quality guidelines have been developed and are embodied in IOM's Clinical Practice Guidelines We Can Trust,1 and a series of publications from the GRADE Working Group.2 Tools and standards for the assessment of clinical practice guidelines (AGREE II10) and systematic reviews (AMSTAR11 and IOM1) have also been published. The updated ACOEM methodology, described fully in Methodology for ACOEM's Occupational Medicine Practice Guidelines—2017 Revision,12 is summarized herein and includes these advances in systematic review methods and guideline development. Summary tables comparing ACOEM's methodology to the standards described by AMSTAR, GRADE, AGREE II, and IOM are available in the complete methodology document.
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