METHODS: A search of the medical literature was performed to identify current methods and procedures for practice guideline evaluation. Two chiropractic practice guideline documents, Vertebral Subluxation in Chiropractic Practice (CCP) and Guidelines for Chiropractic Quality Assurance and Practice Parameters (Mercy) were then independently evaluated for validity by 10 appraisers using the identified appraisal tool. The appraisal scores were tabulated, and consensus appraisals were generated for the CCP and Mercy guideline documents.
RESULTS: The "Appraisal Instrument for Clinical Guidelines" (Cluzeau instrument) was identified as a reliable and valid method of guideline evaluation. The result of the application of this appraisal tool in the assessment of the CCP and Mercy guideline documents was that the former scored notably lower than the latter. On the basis of the results of the guideline appraisals, the CCP document is not recommended, and its guidelines are not considered suitable for application in chiropractic practice. The Mercy guidelines are recommended for application in chiropractic practice, with the proviso that new scientific data should be considered.
CONCLUSIONS: The literature reviewed suggests that professional organizations or groups should undertake a critical review of guidelines using available critical guideline appraisal tools. Guideline validity appraisal should be done before acceptance by the chiropractic profession. To avoid unwarranted utilization of poorly constructed guidelines, it is strongly recommended that all future guidelines be reviewed for validity and scientific accuracy with the findings published in a medically indexed journal before they are adopted by the chiropractic community.
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