A scoping review and survey of evidence-based guidance and guidelines published by General Practice professional organisations

Emer O'brien, Seamus Duffy, Velma Harkins, Susan Smith, Noirin O'herlihy, Aisling Walsh, Barbara Clyne, Emma Wallace

Keywords: General practice, family practitioner, primary healthcare, practice guidelines, evidence based practice


To deliver high-quality, patient-centred care, general practitioners (GPs) need robust, up-to-date evidence. There is limited literature regarding the role of GP professional organisations in developing and publishing evidence-based guidance and guidelines for GPs internationally. The aim of this scoping review is to identify evidence-based guidance produced by GP professional organisations internationally in terms of content, structure, methods of development and dissemination.


This scoping review was completed following Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) guidance. Medline, Embase, Cochrane Library and Scopus databases were searched for relevant studies. A grey literature search of National Health Service (NHS) Evidence and Guideline Central was also completed. Studies were screened in duplicate. Inclusion criteria were; i) an evidence-based guidance document produced by a national general practice professional organisation, ii) developed to support GPs clinical care and iii) published in the last 10 years. A targeted survey of international GP professional organisations was conducted in tandem and a narrative synthesis was performed.


Preliminary findings showed that included GP professional organisations published a wide variety of clinical guidance for use by GP members e.g. chronic disease management, preventive care and care of the elderly. The majority of included guidelines were produced de novo with a standard evidence-based method of development. Guidelines were disseminated through downloadable pdfs with a summary document. Additional information from GP professional organisations survey show that a wide range of guidelines relevant to GP care delivery were produced by collaborating with or endorsing guidelines developed by national or international guideline producing bodies.


There is variation in the content and similarities in both the process of development and in how guidance is disseminated by GP professional organisations. Implementation strategies were poorly reported. These findings have the potential to support collaboration between international GP organisations by reducing duplication of effort, facilitating reproducibility and identifying areas of standardisation.