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Medical guidelines

Systematically developed guidelines for the medical practice

Medical guidelines provide doctors and patients with an overview of the available evidence on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care for a disease and serve as decision-making tools for the medical practice.

Guidelines provide concrete recommendations for action and evaluate the applicability of underlying study findings. This differentiates them from other systematic reviews. Guidelines are not mandatory in the medical practice, what they rather do is that they provide a corridor for action and decision makings that, however, can be deviated from in certain cases.

Quality of guidelines

Guidelines should be consistent with the principles 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 tool and guarantees transparency in the guideline development process.

Guidelines can be subdivided into the three classification grades S1, S2 and S3:

  • S1 guidelines are recommendations that are drawn up by a group of experts in informal consensus.
  • S2 guidelines are based on formal consensus finding (S2k) and/or formal evidence research (S2e).
  • The highest quality is attributed to S3 guidelines because they are drawn up by a representative committee on the basis of systematic processing of the evidence and structured consensus finding.

Occupational medicine guidelines

Guidelines on occupational medical questions are prepared under the aegis of the German Society for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Arbeits- und Umweltmedizin, DGAUM) . They are an orientation guide for occupational physicians and other occupational health professionals. The guidelines work in the DGAUM is supported by the guidelines working group, which advises both the DGAUM board and the authors of guidelines. In this way, quality assurance is guaranteed.

The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin, BAuA) is involved in the guidelines for occupational medicine. It has coordinated the development of the first S3 guideline "Health surveillance for workers exposed to beryllium and diagnostic procedures in berryllium-associated diseases" and is involved in the S2k guideline "Health aspects and organisation of night work and shift work". In addition, BAuA is involved in the DGAUM's guidelines working group.