Background: Many organisations in Australia undertake systematic reviews to inform development of guidelines (or would like to do so). However, the substantial resources required to produce systematic reviews limit their feasibility for guideline development. Project Transform aims to significantly reduce the time and resources required to produce systematic reviews and the health guidelines they support. Over three years (2016-18) we are working with Australian guideline developers to design, build and test systems that will make creating evidence-based guidelines easier and more efficient.
Objectives and Methods: To understand the evidence needs of guideline developers and to inform the development of potential tools and services, we conducted 16 semi-structured interviews with Australian guideline developers. Developers were involved in different types of guidelines (e.g. narrow or broad in scope), represented both new and established guideline groups, and had access to widely different levels of resources.
Results and Discussion: All guideline developers recognised the importance of having access to timely evidence to support their processes, but were frequently overwhelmed by the scale of this task. Groups developing new guidelines often underestimated the time, expertise and work involved in completing searching and screening. Among existing guideline developers, many were grappling with the challenge of updating and were keen to explore alternatives to the blanket updating of the full guideline. Horizon-scanning and evidence signalling were seen as providing more pragmatic approaches to updating, although some were wary of challenges posed by receiving evidence feeds on a too-frequent basis. Respondents were aware that new technologies, such as machine learning, were becoming routine and offered potentially large time and resource savings. The responses show that guideline developers would benefit from the kind of tools and services (e.g. machine classifiers, crowd sourcing) that Cochrane is now implementing. During 2017, we will be working with Australian guideline developers to design and pilot evidence services tailored to their needs.