Medical research and guidelines

Knowledge produced through medical research may be used to update medical guidelines, but it is not always clear when this is warranted. Since 2014, we have been working with the Knowledge Institute of the Federation of Medical Specialists to improve this process.

Applying medical research knowledge in healthcare

Based on medical guidelines and in consultation with their patients, doctors provide effective and affordable care. We support the implementation of validated innovations by including state of the art medical research results into guidelines for specialist medical care.

The Guideline Database gives medical specialists quick and efficient access to relevant, up-to-date and evidence-based guidelines.

For the research projects carried out as part of the ZonMw Efficacy Research programme (established in 2012), we indicate whether each project is aligned with the guidelines and modules in the Guideline Database. This provides insight into which publications and products have resulted in completed projects, and which of these are reflected in the current guidelines. We also indicate which ongoing projects are relevant to which guidelines, which knowledge gaps they might fill and how they might be used to update the guidelines in question after they have been completed.

Faster application of new knowledge in healthcare

The guidelines in the Guideline Database are maintained by the separate scientific associations per specialisation. The modular structure of the guidelines allows the guidelines to be partly amended based on new scientific evidence without having to revise them in their entirety. This saves a considerable amount of time. The scientific associations’ research agendas, in which relevant knowledge gaps are identified and prioritised, also play an important role. These research agendas, together with research funding and guideline maintenance, lead to the increased use of scientifically validated Efficacy Research knowledge in healthcare.

Studies that align with guideline modules

Whether a medical study is aligned with a guideline module is assessed based on the project description on our website and research reports. Links to the study reports can be found in the guidelines. Likewise, the project descriptions on our website contain links to the relevant guidelines.

Incorporation of research results in guidelines

The results of medical studies are published in scientific articles. A digital link between a study and a guideline does not guarantee that the study results will be incorporated into the guideline module. This depends on the result of a PICO (Patient, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome) assessment carried out when the guideline module is updated. If a journal article meets the PICO criteria, it will be included in the systematic literature review that is conducted as part of the module’s development and revision process. The journal article will then be included in the guideline’s summary of the literature review, conclusions and considerations. The research findings will also be placed in a broader context alongside other (international) research.