Accessibility, inclusivity, and implementation of COVID-19 clinical management guidelines early in the pandemic: a global survey
Pilbeam C., Malden D., Newell K., Dagens A., Kennon K., Michelen M., Gobat N., Sigfrid L.
<h4>Background</h4> With a rapidly changing evidence base, high-quality clinical management guidelines (CMGs) are key tools for aiding clinical decision making and increasing access to best available evidence-based care. A rapid review of COVID-19 CMGs found that most lacked methodological rigour, overlooked many at-risk populations, and had variations in treatment recommendations. Furthermore, social science literature highlights the complexity of implementing guidelines in local contexts where they were not developed and the resulting potential to compound health inequities. The aim of this study was to evaluate access to, inclusivity of, and implementation of Covid-19 CMGs in different settings. <h4>Methods</h4> A cross-sectional survey of clinicians worldwide from 15 June to 20 July 2020, to explore access to and implementation of Covid-19 CMGs and treatment and supportive care recommendations provided. Data on accessibility, inclusivity, and implementation of CMGs. were analyzed by geographic location. <h4>Results</h4> Seventy-six clinicians, from 27 countries responded, 82% from high-income countries, 17% from low-middle income countries. Most respondents reported access to Covid-19 CMG and confidence in implementation of these. However, many respondents, particularly from LMICs reported barriers to implementation, including limited access to treatments and equipment. Only 20% of respondents reported having access to CMGs covering care for children, 25% for pregnant women and 50% for older adults (>65 years). Themes emerging were for CMGs to include recommendations for different at-risk populations, and settings, include supportive care guidance, be readily updated as evidence emerges, and CMG implementation supported by training, and access to treatments recommended. <h4>Conclusion</h4> Our findings highlight important gaps in Covid-19 CMG development and implementation challenges during a pandemic, particularly affecting different at-risk populations and lower resourced settings., to improve access in evidence-based care recommendations during an emergency. The findings identifies an urgent need for an improved framework for CMG development, that is inclusive and adaptable to emerging evidence and considers contextual implementation support, to improve access to evidence-based care globally.