by Katina Aleksovska, methodologist of the EAN Guideline Production Group
Clinical practice guidelines are one of the most important contributions that the EAN offers to the neurological community and the EAN Guideline Production Group (GPG) is working continuously towards increasing their quality and reliability. During recent years, the number of topic proposals and guidelines produced by the EAN has increased significantly, so the need to set up a prioritisation procedure was acknowledged by the GPG and by the EAN Board.
In April 2022, the EAN started the procedure for prioritisation of guideline topics for the first time, inviting a large number of EAN community members to propose guideline topics, including: all EAN and Resident and Research Fellow Section (RRFS) members, EFNA representatives of each Scientific Panel (SP), the societies with which EAN has a memorandum of understanding, as well as the delegates of the national neurological associations. We received 187 proposals, 30 of which were selected as top priorities for the next two-to-three years, and five of which were selected by the EAN Board to be produced this year.
The procedure follows two main steps:
- A bottom-up process of selection of a large list of topics, including the views of the broad EAN community.
- A top-down process of selection of the final list of guideline priority topics.
The process of planning and developing this procedure started a few months before its launch. Initially the GPG reviewed the existing procedures of other health organisations, creating a preliminary list of prioritisation criteria, included in a Delphi consensus procedure. The aim of this consensus was to select prioritisation criteria that are most relevant for the context of the EAN guidelines. In this Delphi procedure, 160 stakeholders were invited, including GPG and Scientific Committee members, the co-chairs and the RRFS members of all EAN SPs, representatives of national organisations, patient representatives, policymakers from international organisations, and chairs of previous EAN guideline task forces.
After the selection of the prioritisation criteria, the GPG developed the implementation procedure which was reviewed and approved by the SC and the EAN Board.
This manuscript describes the process of developing and launching the prioritisation procedure. With its publication, we aim to achieve transparency and clarity regarding the whole process of development and implementation. We also believe that this publication can help other organisations in building their own prioritisation procedures.