How to write a guideline: a proposal for a manuscript template that supports the creation of trustworthy guidelines
Trustworthy health guidelines should provide recommendations, document the development process, and highlight implementation information. Our objective was to develop a guideline manuscript template to help authors write a complete and useful report. The McMaster Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) centre collaborated with the American Society of Hematology (ASH) to develop guidelines for the management of venous thromboembolism. A template for reporting
... guidelines was developed based on prior approaches and refined using input from other key stakeholders. The proposed guideline manuscript template includes: 1) title for guideline identification; 2) abstract, including a summary of key recommendations; 3) overview of all recommendations [executive summary]; 4) the main text, providing sufficient detail on the entire process including objectives, background, and methodological decisions from panel selection and conflict of interest management to criteria for updating, as well as supporting information such as links to online (interactive) tables. The template further allows for tailoring to the specific topic, using examples. Initial experience with the ASH guideline manuscript template was positive, and challenges included drafting descriptions of recommendations involving multiple management pathways, tailoring the template for a specific guideline, and choosing key recommendations to highlight. Feedback from a larger group of guideline authors and users will be needed to evaluate its usefulness and refine. The proposed guideline manuscript template is the first detailed template for transparent and complete reporting of guidelines. Consistent application of the template may simplify preparing an evidence-based guideline manuscript and facilitate its use.