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About the Updating Guidelines Working Group


Clinical guidelines (CGs) become outdated as new evidence is published and require a periodic reassessment to remain valid. The principles of updating CGs can be a complex, potentially resource intensive, and include three main steps: 1) identifying new evidence; 2) assessing if the new evidence has a potential impact on the current guideline; and 3) reviewing and modifying the guideline.

CGs methodological handbooks include very little guidance about how to review and update guidelines. In general, guideline programmes endorse three years as a reasonable time period to review their guidelines, however, the reality is that most groups struggle to do this every five years.

Some published research has been undertaken about the identification and assessment of new evidence (encompassed sometimes as review, surveillance or monitoring process), even though there is still important areas of uncertainty. Less attention has been paid to the review, modification and presentation of the recommendations. This is probably due, among other reasons, to the likely assumption that it is similar to the development process. Clearly, more work is required to identify a strategy or suite of strategies that find the “sweet” spot between rigour and feasibility.  Sound methodological guidance is still not available to the guideline community.

There have also been developments around a ‘living’ guideline approach and continuous updating but there is still uncertainty around how the methods for facilitating this approach. There is a lot of opportunity to promote collaboration and learning around methods for living guidelines to maximise effort.

There are several international initiatives to improve the process of developing CGs (e.g. GRADE, AGREEII, GLIA, GIN standards or IOM standards), however, these initiatives are failing to fully address the issues pertaining to updating.

We believe that there is a need to prioritise, promote and collaborate between international guideline development and research communities to improve and standardise the updating process. Working jointly with the field of systematic reviewers will also be crucial.


Aims and Objectives of the Working Group

  • Provide a network, for those interested in updating CGs methodology (guideline users, developers, data scientists and other stakeholders), to exchange knowledge and experiences about methodological and operational issues
  • Develop resources for the guideline community
  • Coordinate efforts with the systematic reviews community (e.g. Cochrane Collaboration) to streamline processes
  • Provide support and training to groups undertaking or planning to undertake CGs updating projects
  • Coordinate with the related GIN working groups (e.g. Accelerated Guideline development, collaboration group)
  • Organise and promote events (e.g. workshops, oral presentations) in annual GIN conferences


Main duties and responsibilities

  • Develop and maintain the working group area on the GIN website
  • Identify methodological tools and resources
  • Identify research gaps
  • Promote and stimulate research  


How to join?

If you are a GIN member and interested in joining the WG, please email


Page last updated: Dec 04, 2020
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