Reporting guidelines improve the reporting of health research. The RIGHT reporting checklist was developed to guide standards of reporting in healthcare practice guidelines (HPGs). RIGHT follows the framework for health research reporting guidelines set by the EQUATOR network (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research) and uses the same approach as other reporting guidelines, such as CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) and PRISMA. The AGREE (Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation) reporting checklist was developed as an extension to the AGREE tools for methodological quality of HPGs, and is in line with the content of the AGREE II instrument.
We evaluated completeness of reporting by using both the RIGHT and AGREE reporting checklists. The test sample included national (Croatian) and relevant transnational (European) HPGs.
For national sample of guidelines, we included all HPGs published in the official journal of the Croatian Medical Association from 2014 to 2016. To identify similar European HPGs, we reviewed the bibliographies of included documents and searched PubMed and Google. Two independent assessors checked adherence of the HPGs with checklists.
Correlation coefficients for adherence of HPGs to the RIGHT and AGREE reporting checklists were high (Spearman rho was 0.76 for Croatian and 0.85 for European HPGs). Croatian guidelines (n = 26) had lower reporting quality than European guidelines (n = 24) measured by both RIGHT and AGREE (P < 0.05, Mann Whitney) when expressed in absolute numbers, but there was no difference in terms of median proportions of adhered items. Both sets of included guidelines failed to report sufficiently on patient preferences and inclusion in guideline development.
The RIGHT and AGREE reporting checklists can be used alternately. However, the RIGHT checklist is considerably shorter and could be easier to use, with similar results. Quality of reporting seems to be poorer in guidelines developed by national societies than in those developed by transnational societies, indicating problems in translating evidence to local healthcare practices.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement:
To ensure a high quality guideline, patients should be included in guideline development, to identify their needs and preferences and ultimately to strengthen the conversation between healthcare providers and users. Both checklists require transparent reporting on the process of taking patient views and preferences into account when formulating recommendations.