Up-to-date, high quality, evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) that are applicable for primary healthcare are vital to optimize services for the population with chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMSP). The study aimed to systematically identify and appraise the available evidence-based CPGs for the management of CMSP in adults presenting in primary healthcare settings.
A systematic review was conducted. Twelve guideline clearinghouses and six electronic databases were searched for eligible CPGs published between the years 2000 and May 2015. CPGs meeting the inclusion criteria were appraised by three reviewers using the Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation (AGREE) II. Of the 1082 records identified, 34 were eligible, and 12 CPGs were included based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The methodological rigor of CPG development was highly variable, and the median domain score was 66%. The median score for stakeholder involvement was 64%. The lowest median score was obtained for the domain applicability (48%). There was inconsistent use of frameworks to aggregate the level of evidence and the strength of the recommendation in the included CPGs. The scope and content of the included CPGs focussed on opioid prescription.
Numerous CPGs that are applicable for the primary healthcare of CMSP exists, varying in their scope and methodological quality. This study highlights specific elements to enhance the development and reporting of CPGs, which may play a role in the uptake of guidelines into clinical practice. These elements include enhanced reporting of methodological aspects, the use of frameworks to enhance decision making processes, the inclusion of patient preferences and values, and the consideration of factors influencing applicability of recommendations.