Clinical practice guidelines (also known as CPG's, practice guidelines, clinical guidelines, or just guidelines) are a type of high-level evidence that will help you as you are researching your PICO or implementing changes in a clinical setting. Guidelines are a special type of document because they
1. review the existing evidence on a topic,
2. grade the evidence, and
3. make recommendations for how and when to implement the guideline.
Guidelines can be developed on the international, national, state, and local level by health organizations, hospitals, and other groups. If you find a guideline, don't forget to evaluate it for quality and authorship to be sure it is trustworthy and can be used in patient care. Some examples of trustworthy organizations include the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, etc.
Guidelines can be found in a few ways.
1. Websites that collect guidelines. TRIPdatabase.com will provide you with a list of guidelines that have been registered with its site. TRIPdatabase contains many types of evidence and you must limit your search results to guidelines. This website is a great place to start in your search. Professional organizations also provide guidelines on their websites that aren't listed in guideline websites or databases. To find these, it is easiest to do a web search for your basic topic (usually a specific disease, condition, or intervention) and the words "guideline" or "practice guideline." You can also search the website of a specific organization that is related to your area of interest.
2. Health sciences databases, such as CINAHL and PubMed contain guidelines that have been published in journals. Just search for your topic and use the Article Type or Publication Type limit for guidelines. These databases won't contain as many guidelines as the websites, but they can still be a useful place to search.
Sometimes guidelines will not entirely match your PICO, but as long as they can contribute to your discussion of the evidence, they can be useful for nursing assignments.