Integrating approaches for quality guideline development in LactaMap, an online lactation care support system

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Background: Health professionals caring for women and infants experiencing difficulty with breastfeeding have reported deficiencies in evidence-based lactation knowledge. LactaMap is an online lactation care support system with more than 100 clinical practice guidelines to support breastfeeding care. Clinical practice guidelines support medical decision-making by summarising scientific evidence into systematically developed statements for specific clinical circumstances. Both common-sense and theory-based approaches have been used for guideline development and debate continues regarding which is superior. LactaMap clinical practice guidelines were created over the course of 5 years using a common-sense approach that was refined inductively. The aim of this study was to incorporate a theory-based framework approach into the methodology for ongoing update and review of LactaMap clinical practice guidelines. Methods: The Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE) II instrument was chosen as the framework-based approach to appraise LactaMap guideline quality. The study was conducted in two phases. The first phase appraised all 103 original LactaMap guidelines. The second phase appraised a subset of 15 updated LactaMap guidelines using improved methodology guided by phase 1, as well as 15 corresponding original (un-updated) guidelines. Results: Mean Domain scores for 103 LactaMap original guidelines were above 75% in 3 of the 6 AGREE II quality Domains and no mean Domain score rated poorly. Update of guideline methodology was guided by phase 1 appraisals. Improved documentation of methods relating to questions in the Rigour of Development Domain resulted in improvement in mean Domain score from 39 to 72%. Conclusions: This study showed that a theory-based approach to guideline development methodology can be readily integrated with a common-sense approach. Factors identified by AGREE II theory-based framework provided practical guidance for changes in methodology that were integrated prior to LactaMap website publication. Demonstration of high quality in LactaMap clinical practice guideline methodology ensures clinicians and the public can have trust that the content founded on them is robust, scientific and of highest possible quality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number322
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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