Strength of recommendations in WHO guidelines using GRADE was associated with uptake in national policy.
Nasser SMU., Cooke G., Kranzer K., Norris SL., Olliaro P., Ford N.
ObjectivesThis study assesses the extent to which the strength of a recommendation in a World Health Organization (WHO) guideline affects uptake of the recommendation in national guidelines.Study design and settingThe uptake of recommendations included in HIV and TB guidelines issued by WHO from 2009 to 2013 was assessed across guidelines from 20 low- and middle-income countries in Africa and Southeast Asia. Associations between characteristics of recommendations (strength, quality of the evidence, type) and uptake were assessed using logistic regression.ResultsEight WHO guidelines consisting of 109 strong recommendations and 49 conditional recommendations were included, and uptake assessed across 44 national guidelines (1,255 recommendations) from 20 countries. Uptake of WHO recommendations in national guidelines was 82% for strong recommendations and 61% for conditional recommendations. The odds of uptake comparing strong recommendations and conditional recommendations was 1.9 (95% confidence interval: 1.4, 2.7), after adjustment for quality of evidence. Higher levels of evidence quality were associated with greater uptake, independent of recommendation strength.ConclusionGuideline developers should be confident that conditional recommendations are frequently adopted. The fact that strong recommendations are more frequently adopted than conditional recommendations underscores the importance of ensuring that such recommendations are justified.