Systematically developed statements to assist practitioners and patients in arriving at decisions on appropriate health care for specific clinical circumstances

The purpose of guidelines is to make explicit recommendations with a definite intent to influence what clinicians do. While there are a vast number of guidelines available, credible and useful guidelines employ the Evidence-based process to assemble, organize and synthesize the best available evidence from clinical research. This evidence is then integrated with clinical experience to develop the recommendations enhancing clinical judgement not replacing it.

Evidence-based guidelines are based on systematic reviews of the literature. Systematic reviews use rigorous and explicit methods to search for and critically appraise the entire body of clinical research evidence related to a question. By evaluating the scientific evidence in a rigorous and structured manner, it may be possible to begin to determine which interventions are beneficial and which are ineffective or even harmful, and to elucidate where the research evidence is weak, contradictory or lacking.