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Pharmacy: Clinical Practice Guidelines

What are clinical practice guidelines?

Clinical practice guidelines are statements that include recommendations intended to optimize patient care that are informed by a systematic review of evidence and an assessment of the benefits and harms of alternative care options.

To be trustworthy, guidelines should:

  • be based on a systematic review of the existing evidence
  • be developed by a knowledgeable, multidisciplinary panel of experts and representatives from key affected groups
  • consider important patient subgroups and patient preferences, as appropriate
  • be based on an explicit and transparent process that minimizes distortions, biases, and conflicts of interest
  • provide a clear explanation of the logical relationships between alternative care options and health outcomes, and provide ratings of both the quality of evidence and the strength of the recommendations
  • be reconsidered and revised as appropriate when important new evidence warrants modifications of recommendations.

Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Standards for Developing Trustworthy Clinical Practice Guidelines, Graham R, Mancher M, Miller Wolman D, Greenfield S, Steinberg E, eds. Clinical Practice Guidelines We Can Trust. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011.

How do I cite clinical practice guidelines?

Most clinical practice guidelines are published in journals. Follow the AMA Style guide for citing journal articles.

Names of all authors should be given unless there are more than 6, in which case the names of the first 3 authors are used, followed by “et al.”

Use journal abbreviations instead of the full journal name.

Online Journal Article: Note that the DOI is preferred over a URL.

  • Authors(s). Article title. Journal Name Abbreviation. Year;vol(issue no.): pages. DOI
  • Example: Gasbarrini GB, Mangiola F, Gerardi V, Ianiro G, Corazza GR, Gasbarrini A. Coeliac disease: an old or a new disease? history of a pathology. Intern Emerg Med. 2014;9(3):249–256. doi:10.1007/s11739-013-1044-5


  • Authors(s). Article title. Journal Name Abbreviation. Year;vol(issue no.): inclusive pages. Accessed [date]. URL
  • Example: Gore D, Haji SA, Balashanmugam A, et al. Light and electron microscopy of macular corneal dystrophy: a case study. Digit J Ophthalmol. 2004;10. Accessed December 6, 2005.

Where do I find clinical practice guidelines?

There is no one database or source that brings together all clinical practice guidelines. The most comprehensive database of clinical practice guidelines is the ECRI Institute. You have to create a free account in order to search for and read any guidelines. The ECRI Institute includes TRUST (Transparency and Rigor Using Standards of Trustworthiness) Scorecard for many guidelines. Click here to read about the inclusion criteria a guideline must meet in order to be included in the ECRI database.

Other sources to search for guidelines:

Organizations also create clinical practice guidelines. Below is a list of organizations that produce clinical practice guidelines.