What are Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs)?

There are many different definitions of what are Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs).

One oft-cited definition was proposed by the Institute of Medicine who defines CPGs as “systemically developed statements to assist practitioner and patients’ decisions about appropriate healthcare for specific clinical circumstances”. Similarly, the American Psychological Association states that CPGs “provide research-based recommendations for the treatment of particular disorders. They generally include assessments of the strength of the current scientific evidence for each recommendation”. Many other organizations have proposed definitions of practice guidelines, including the Health Council of Canada, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, to name but a few.

While many definitions for CPGs exist, they do not always capture all of the important elements of CPGs as applied to psychology. Beauchamp, Drapeau, and Dionne (2015) recommend using the definition proposed by the Institut National d’Excellence en Santé et en Services Sociaux (INESSS; National Institute of Excellence in Health and Social Services), who defines CPGs as:

“Recommendations developed systematically and transparently by and for the stakeholders concerned with a specific intervention in social care. These recommendations are founded on the best evidence data supported by exhaustive contextual data and expert knowledge – particularly that of researchers, managers, social care practitioners, and social care users. They are presented in a clear and concise manner so that they can be understood by the stakeholders and thus support their decisions”.

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