Background: Increasingly, guidelines developers have fewer resources for guideline development at all stages – including identification of topics for guidance (pre-scoping). We needed a more efficient process to ensure that new guideline topics are useful to the system and meet user needs.
Objectives: To describe a new rapid pre-scoping process for public health guidance.
Methods: A new rapid process for pre-scoping was developed. It consists of
• An initial request to consider guidance in a broad area of public health concern (for example, housing and health).
• Early and ongoing discussion with key policy experts and stakeholders
• A report describing relevant information on the impact of the issue, current policy, legislation and practice, and a high-level assessment of the potential evidence base. The report also includes a recommendation as to whether guidance should be produced, and if so, the population, interventions and settings that should be included.
• A final decision made by a Topic Selection Committee.
Results: We will present key features of the process and the outputs, using several case studies. We will also describe how this helped identify priorities for the public health system, and aligned these with other initiatives and work programmes.
Conclusions: Pre-scoping identifies key areas where new guidance can add value very early in the development process. It also reduces the risk of scoping topics that are already covered by guidance or policy or have a limited evidence base; hence wasting resources.
Pre-scoping has helped provide early definition and focus in a topic area before the full engagement and cost of scoping. It also supports transparent decision making when a suggested area is not found to be suitable for guidance development.
Early and rigorous pre-scoping using a range of evidence and sources and adopting a pragmatic approach can help identify areas for guideline development prior to full scoping.