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Up-to-date CPGs crucial as medical knowledge mushrooms, CMA says

How quickly is medical knowledge expanding?

"Just in the time we're talking today I'm behind if I don't have access to CPGs," Dr. Sam Shortt, the CMA's director of quality initiatives, says in a video posted recently by the Health Council of Canada (HCC).

The video is one of four posted by the council in its Understanding Clinical Practice Guidelines: A video series primer. The goal is to spark interest in the role of clinical practice guidelines in day-to-day practice.

"We want to offer a variety of audiences a greater insight into what CPGs are, how they are used, disseminated and implemented, and what impact they can have on patient outcomes and the performance of the health care system," says Sukirtha Tharmalingam, a senior policy analyst at the HCC.

Shortt said the CMA was pleased to participate in the project.

"The CMA is committed to the transformation of the health care system, and CPGs are one of the tools that can be used to achieve that goal," he said.

But he admits that keeping up to date on new guidelines is not easy.

"There are 76 RCTs [randomized clinical trials] published every day," he explains in the HCC video, "along with another 11 systematic reviews."

In the video, a narrator explains that the CMA has been a leader in disseminating CPGs because it maintains "one of the largest online CPG repositories" in Canada via its CMA Infobase, which contains almost 1,300 guidelines.

"It is a Canadian database for Canadian physicians," Shortt says.

Besides its searchable CPG database, the CMA Infobase includes:

  • a list of the 10 most frequently viewed CPGs (in January, Recommendations on screening for type 2 diabetes in adults ranked first)
  • a list of new and/or updated CPGs (in January, it included Recommendations on screening for cervical cancer and Canadian smoking cessation clinical practice guideline)

The CMA Infobase also provides links to 15 additional CPG databases in Canada and around the world.

In an interview, Shortt said the Internet has played a crucial role in ensuring that CPGs are both accessible and up to date. "The CMA Infobase is proof of that," he said.

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