Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) for the treatment of cancer vary greatly between different countries and are sometimes even contradictory. Certain therapeutic areas are covered by more than one CPG, while other CPGs are incomplete or are based on incomplete scientific evidence. To remedy this situation, in 2006 a total of 16 organizations from 11 countries joined together to form the European CoCanCPG Network (Coordination of Cancer Clinical Practice Guidelines). The Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) was actively involved in this venture and has now produced a report of its work on the CoCanCPG project, which is now finished.
The aim of the network, which was funded by the European Union up till January 2010, was to prevent or at least reduce discrepancies in the development of cancer CPGs. This was to be done through an exchange of experience, knowledge and tools. The institutions that participated were directly or indirectly involved in developing, evaluating or applying CPGs. Members of the Network included national HTA agencies and government departments as well as organizations that develop cancer CPGs.
IQWiG does not develop CPGs but uses them, for example, to identify standards in medical care. Moreover, the Institute is currently developing methods to assess the quality of content of CPG recommendations. Thus, IQWiG’s particular contribution to the Network was its competences in quality assessment of CPGs and their content.
Practical manual developed for adapting CPGs
The work of the Network is divided up among its members. Together with the French Haute Autorité de Santé, IQWiG’s main task was to develop a handbook (manual) on the adaptation of CPGs. As a practical guide, its aim is to assist in adapting existing cancer CPGs to each national healthcare context and to the specific clinical question.
The manual is aimed at all groups who develop or adapt cancer CPGs, implement them, i.e. introduce them into the healthcare situation, or apply them in the treatment of patients. This can be, for example, local facilities in health care or organizations that develop CPGs, such as professional medical associations. The manual has been published on the CoCanCPG website.
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