Quality of Rehabilitation Clinical Practice Guidelines: An Overview Study of AGREE II Appraisals

Marcel P. Dijkers, Irene Ward, Thiru Annaswamy, Devin Dedrick, Jennie Feldpausch, Andrew Moul, Lilian Hoffecker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the quality of rehabilitation Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG), specifically with respect to their applicability. Data Sources: The Medline, Embase, Web of Science, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Cochrane Library databases were searched for papers published between 2017 and 2019 that applied the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research & Evaluation II (AGREE II) CPG quality assessment tool to rehabilitation CPGs. Study Selection: Deduplicated abstracts (N=449) were independently screened by 2 authors, resulting in 47 articles. Independent screening of 47 full texts by 2 authors resulted in a final selection of 40 papers appraising 544 CPGs. Data Extraction: Data were extracted by 1 author using a pretested Excel form and were checked by a second author. Key data on the review papers included: purpose, methods used for finding and appraising CPGs, and observations and conclusions on CPG quality, specifically applicability. Key data on each CPG included the 6 AGREE II domain scores or 23 item scores, as well as 2 global evaluations. Data Synthesis: The mean AGREE II domain scores for the 544 CPGs (all on a 0-100 scale) were: scope and purpose (72), stakeholder involvement (53), rigor of development (56), clarity of presentation (71), applicability (34), and editorial independence (50). Only 36% of CPGs were recommended without modification. The 40 review authors generally stated that all or most of the CPGs they appraised were poor or mediocre, especially with respect to applicability. They only infrequently pointed out what information, going beyond that specified in AGREE II, would enhance applicability. Conclusions: CPGs in principle are an ideal means to move knowledge obtained from clinical research into practice. Our review of reviews of rehabilitation CPGs shows that they commonly have deficits, especially in terms of applicability. Much work needs to be done by guideline developers to make it easier for the average rehabilitation organization and clinician to implement CPGs in daily practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1643-1655
Number of pages13
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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