Prioritizing guideline topics: development and evaluation of a practical tool.

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RATIONALE, AIMS AND OBJECTIVES A clear process for selecting and adopting clinical practice guidelines in the new topic areas is needed. The aim of this study is to design and develop a practical tool to assess guideline topics that have been suggested to the organization responsible for producing guidelines. METHODS We carried out an iterative development, feasibility and validation study of a guideline topic prioritization tool. The setting included the guideline producer organization and the tax-funded health care system. In the first stage of the tool development, participants were researchers, members of the Current Care Board and experts from health care organizations. In the second stage, the evaluation was done internally within the project by three independent reviewers. The main outcome measures were responses to an evaluation questionnaire, qualitative process feedback and analysis of the performance of the instrument on a random set of guidelines. RESULTS Evaluations by three independent reviewers revealed good agreement and face validity with respect to its feasibility as a planning tool at the guideline board level. Feedback from board members suggested that the instrument is useful in prioritizing guideline topics. CONCLUSION This instrument was accepted for use by the Board. Further developments are needed to ensure feedback and acceptability of the instrument by those proposing topics.