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Developing and implementing clinical guidelines: lessons from the NICE Schizophrenia Guideline

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 May 2011

Stephen Pilling*
National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, Centre for Outcomes Research and Effectiveness, Department of Psychology, University College, London (United Kingdom) Camden and Islington Mental Health and Social Care Trust, London (United Kingdom)
Katy Price
National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, College Research and Training Unit, Royal College of Psychiatrists, London (United Kingdom)
Address for correspondence: S. Pilling, CORE - Sub-dept Clinical Health Psychology, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HB (United Kingdom). Fax: +44(0)20 7916 8511 E-mail:


This paper describes the development of the clinical practice guideline on schizophrenia from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) and outlines its main recommendations. It reviews the evidence on effective implementation of guidelines generally and examines issues specific to the schizophrenia guideline. It describes NICE'S approach to supporting implementation alongside that developed by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH) and looks at local implementation examples for schizophrenia.

The paper highlights key considerations for the forthcoming revision of the NICE schizophrenia guideline. It makes recommendations concerning the scope of the guideline and the quality and type of data available to the guideline developers: the lack of data on outcomes such as quality of life and social functioning, the challenges presented by unpublished papers and areas where evidence is limited. Since publication of the schizophrenia guideline, the NICE development process has undergone significant methodological improvements. The grading of evidence has been refined and more recently NICE proposed that grading of recommendations be dropped. Consensus methods are increasingly and more effectively used to deal with areas where the evidence-base is limited. NICE and the NCCMH have developed a more implementation-ready range of guideline products.

The initial NICE guideline on schizophrenia was positively received nationally and internationally. This paper highlights challenges that will be involved in updating the guideline and ways to refine the methodology of development. Ultimately the impact of the guideline will be measured not in its methodological rigor but in how its successful implementation improves patient care.

Declaration of Interest: Stephen Pilling in receipt of funding from NICE for the production of clinical guidelines.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2006

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