A peer-reviewed, evidence-based journal for clinicians in the field of neuroscience
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Hot Topics in Pain Management [August 2016] 19 published CPGs on similar topics in t he past several decades, but their quality has been found to vary highly [3, 4, 5]. Therefore, concerns have risen about the quality of CPGs. Neuropathic pain (NP), caused by a s omatosensory lesion or various diseases, comprises a wide range of heterogenous conditions . NP affects millions of people worldwide, and its estimated prevalence in the general population is as high as 7–8% [7, 8]. Generally, NP is chronic, severe and resistant to over-the-counter analgesics. Thus, the management of NP is challenging. To improve the management for NP, the European federation of Neurological Societies (EFNS) [9, 10, 11, 12, 13], the Canadian Pain Society Special Interest Group on Neuropathic Pain (NePSIG) [14, 15, 16], the Assessment Committee of the Neuropathic Pain Special Interest Group of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) [17, 18, 19], the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) [20, 21], as well as an expert panel of the Middle East region (MER) , Latin American (LA) , and South Africa (SA) , have developed the CPG for the management of NP. In the present study, we systematically reviewed the available CPGs for NP, focusing on their methodological quality, using the Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation II (AGREE II) instrument, and also assessed the consistency of the CPG recommendations. METHODS Search strategy and CPG selection. Two experienced systematic reviewers searched relevant studies to identify CPGs for the management of NP. The following electronic databases were searched: MEDLINE, Embase, the National Guideline Clearinghouse, the Guidelines International Network, and Canadian Medical Association Infobase. Additionally, we searched the websites of the related associations, institutes, societies, and communities, including EFNS, the Canadian Pain Society, IASP, and the South African Society of Anaesthesiologists. T he following terms and Boolean operators were used in Mesh and free- text searches: (Practice Guideline OR Guideline OR Consensus OR Recommendation) and neuropathic p ain. Finally, we also scanned the reference lists of relevant published articles not identified in the database searches. Eligibility criteria. Two reviewers independently examined and selected the CPGs according to inclusion and exclusion criteria. The inclusion criteria were as follows: (1) explicit statement identifying itself as a "guideline"; (2) CPGs that included recommendations concerning screening, diagnosis, and/or management for neuropathic pain; (3) CPGs that included a systematic review of the evidence; (4) CPGs produced by the related associations, institute, societies, or communities; (5) CPGs published in English. The exclusion criteria were as follows: (1) consensus statements, which were derived from the collective opinion of an expert panel not based on a systematic review of the evidence; (2) articles including primary studies, narrative reviews, text-like documents on development methods, documents on comments related to CPGs; (3) documents focused entirely on a unique condition, such as cancer- related neuropathic pain, postherpetic neuralgia, diabetic neuropathy, among others. Selection of CPGs. Following completion of all searches, references were merged and duplicates were removed. By reading titles and abstracts, two reviewers independently scanned the references to verify their eligibility using the pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria listed above. Additionally, two reviewers independently scanned the full-text to further verify their eligibility according to the eligibility criteria after the full- text article was obtained. If needed, disagreements were resolved by discussion with a third reviewer. Appraisal of selected CPGs using AGREE II instrument. The AGREE II instrument, an updated version of the original AGREE instrument, is an i nternational, rigorously developed, and validated instrument used widely to assess CPGs . It consists of 23 key items organized into six domains: "scope and purpose" (items 1–3), " stakeholder involvement" (items 4–7), "rigor of development" (items 8–14), "clarity of presentation" (items 15–18), "applicability" (items 19–21), and "editorial independence" (items 22– 23). Each item in a domain is scored from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). A score of 1 (strongly disagree) should be given if there is no relevant information on the AGREE II items or this information is very poorly reported. A score of 7 (strongly agree) should be assigned when the full criteria and considerations articulated in User's Manual have been met. A score between 2 and 6 should be given if reporting information does not meet the full criteria or considerations relevant to the AGREE II item . Three reviewers assessed each included CPG independently and provided their scores on the overall assessment. Item scores were discussed and scoring discrepancies were solved by consensus. The score for each domain was calculated as follows: (obtained score-minimal possible score)/(maximal possible score-minimal possible score). As defined by AGREE II, we considered a CPG as satisfactory if it scored at least 50% on all six domains . Statistical analysis. Descriptive and statistical analyses were performed for each domain of the AGREE II instrument. Inter-rater reliability within each domain was examined using the intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) with a 95% confidence interval. The degree of agreement was classified according to the scale proposed by Landis and Koch, as follows: poor (<0.00), slight (0.00–0.20), fair (0.21–0.40), moderate (0.41–0.60), substantial (0.61–0.80) and very good or almost perfect (0.81– 1.00) . All statistical analyses were performed using SPSS and statistical significance was considered with P < 0.05.