Medical Guidelines

Medical and occupational medical guidelines allow doctors and patients to gain an overview of the knowledge available about the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care of health conditions. They are drawn up by groups of experts and serve as decision-making tools for medical practitioners.

Guidelines set out concrete practical recommendations and evaluate the applicability of findings from fundamental studies. They are therefore quite different from other kinds of systematic review. Guidelines are not binding on medical practitioners, but merely define a corridor for action and decision-making, from which it is possible to deviate in justified cases.

Quality assurance

Guidelines are supposed to conform with the principle of evidence-based medicine. The Association of the Scientific Medical Societies in Germany (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Wissenschaftlichen Medizinischen Fachgesellschaften e.V., AWMF) has drawn up a manual for the development and publication of guidelines. This manual serves as a quality assurance tool and guarantees transparency during the guideline development process.

Guidelines and practical recommendations are categorised using an AWMF classification scheme with the classification grades S1, S2k, S2e, and S3:

  • S1 guidelines are practical recommendations that are drafted by a group of experts by informal consensus.
  • S2 guidelines are based on a formal consensus-finding process (S2k) and/or formal evidence-based research (S2e).
  • S3 guidelines are accepted as being of the highest quality because they are drawn up by a representative body on the basis of a systematic analysis of the evidence and a structured consensus-finding process.

Occupational medical guidelines

Guidelines on issues in occupational medicine are prepared under the aegis of the German Society for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Arbeits- und Umweltmedizin, DGAUM). They provide guidance for occupational physicians and other occupational health professionals.

The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin, BAuA) is actively involved in the work done on guidelines for occupational medicine in Germany. In the past, for example, it coordinated the drafting of the first S3 occupational medical guideline, Health Surveillance for Workers Exposed to Beryllium and Diagnostic Procedures for Beryllium-associated Diseases (Gesundheitsüberwachung bei Beryllium-Exposition und diagnostisches Vorgehen bei berylliumassoziierter Erkrankung). Furthermore, BAuA took part in the preparation of the S2k guideline Health Aspects and Organisation of Night and Shift Work (Gesundheitliche Aspekte und Gestaltung von Nacht- und Schichtarbeit) and contributed its expertise to the drafting of the S2k guidelines Working under Climatic Stress (Arbeiten unter klimatischen Belastungen) and Deployment of Exoskeletons in Occupational Contexts for the Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Prevention of Work-associated Musculoskeletal Disorders (Einsatz von Exoskeletten im beruflichen Kontext zur Primär-, Sekundär-, und Tertiärprävention von arbeitsassoziierten muskuloskelettalen Beschwerden).

Further Information

More about Occupational Health Prevention