Strength of recommendations in WHO guidelines using GRADE was associated with uptake in national policy

Syed Muhammad Umar Nasser, Graham Cooke, Katharina Kranzer, Susan L. Norris, Piero Olliaro, Nathan Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objectives This study assesses the extent to which the strength of a recommendation in a World Health Organization (WHO) guideline affects uptake of the recommendation in national guidelines. Study Design and Setting The uptake of recommendations included in HIV and TB guidelines issued by WHO from 2009 to 2013 was assessed across guidelines from 20 low- and middle-income countries in Africa and Southeast Asia. Associations between characteristics of recommendations (strength, quality of the evidence, type) and uptake were assessed using logistic regression. Results Eight WHO guidelines consisting of 109 strong recommendations and 49 conditional recommendations were included, and uptake assessed across 44 national guidelines (1,255 recommendations) from 20 countries. Uptake of WHO recommendations in national guidelines was 82% for strong recommendations and 61% for conditional recommendations. The odds of uptake comparing strong recommendations and conditional recommendations was 1.9 (95% confidence interval: 1.4, 2.7), after adjustment for quality of evidence. Higher levels of evidence quality were associated with greater uptake, independent of recommendation strength. Conclusion Guideline developers should be confident that conditional recommendations are frequently adopted. The fact that strong recommendations are more frequently adopted than conditional recommendations underscores the importance of ensuring that such recommendations are justified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)703-707
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Guidelines
  • Quality
  • Strength
  • Uptake
  • World Health Organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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