Background: Systematic Evidence Reviews

Since the mid-1970s, the NHLBI has collaborated with researchers and practitioners to develop clinical practice guidelines focused on the management of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In 2007, the Institute undertook an important project to convene expert panels to update the clinical guidelines on high blood cholesterol in adults and overweight and obesity in adults. Part of this project also involved cross-cutting work groups to consider topics of cardiovascular risk assessment, lifestyle modification, and implementation issues.

In 2011, while these experts were developing the documents, the Institute of Medicine issued two new reports that established new "best practice" standards for generating systematic evidence reviews and developing clinical practice guidelines. The reports underscore that these are two distinct, yet related, activities that require careful intersection and coordination.

Based on their recommendations and that of our Advisory Council Working Groups, the NHLBI will now transition to a new model of generating valuable systematic evidence reviews. These systematic evidence reviews can then be used by professional societies to construct high quality evidence-based practice guidelines for a wide variety of conditions.

These systematic evidence reviews are the product of some of the most rigorous evidence-based systematic reviews conducted to date. They followed a unique model of precision unequalled in this field and will truly be a gift to the community by the expert panel members.

This new process will allow the organizations that are at the front line of clinical practice to take the lead in guidelines development in partnership with us and using the NHLBI evidence reviews as a resource for doing so.

This new model will allow us to continue to convene the best minds to help us synthesize the latest research, develop systematic evidence reviews, and collaborate with professional societies to use this knowledge to develop the clinical guidance needed by the clinicians who treat patients and the individuals committed to living healthier lives.