Systematic review authors and patient representatives are commonly part of the process of guidelines development, however published studies on authorship or panel involvement in clinical practice guidelines are lacking.
To describe the approach to authorship in reports of clinical practice guidelines and the characteristics of individual authors.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of guidelines listed in the National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC) in 2016. We abstracted data on the general characteristics of the guidelines, the reported approach to authorship and individual author characteristics, including panel membership. We abstracted data independently, in duplicate, using a standardized form. We conducted both descriptive and regression analyses.
Overall, we identified a total of 139 eligible guidelines. Of these, 48 (35%) included a group authorship statement in the author byline. A third of these guidelines (n = 45; 32%) reported on authors' contributions, while about half of the guidelines (n = 74; 53%) reported which of the authors served as panel members. Around one-fifth of the guidelines (n = 30; 22%) reported group membership (e.g. content expert, patient representative) for at least one author. Out of 30 guidelines, 43% included patient representatives and only 13% included systematic review authors. Higher journal impact factor was associated with both reporting of author contributions (odds ratio (OR) 1.07) and the inclusion of a panel membership section in the guideline report (OR 1.21).
A low percentage of clinical practice guidelines report information on important aspects of authorship and the characteristics of individual authors. A low percentage of systematic review authors were involved in guideline development, while less than half of the guidelines involved patient representatives. Better reporting of some of these aspects was associated with journal impact factor.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement:
No direct involvement. However, improvement of the quality of adopted clinical practice guidelines associated with better reporting techniques will contribute to better standards of care. In addition, guideline organizations should improve their involvement of healthcare consumers in guideline panels.