HHS to eliminate clinical guidelines website July 16

A funding cut is forcing the shutdown of a one-of-kind medical research database on July 16.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's National Guideline Clearinghouse website gives users free access to clinical practice guidelines that laypeople don't spend much time thinking about, but experts like Valerie King, MD, a professor and research director at Oregon Health & Science University, calls perhaps the most important repository of evidence-based research available.

"Guideline.gov was our go-to source, and there is nothing else like it in the world," Dr. King said, referring to the URL at which the database is hosted, which the agency says receives about 200,000 visitors per month. "It is a singular resource," Dr. King told The Daily Beast.

Key components of the website include:

  • Structured, standardized abstracts (summaries) about each guideline and its development
  • A utility for comparing attributes of two or more guidelines side-by-side
  • Syntheses of guidelines covering similar topics, highlighting areas of similarity and difference
  • Links to full-text guidelines, where available, and/or ordering information for print copies

"AHRQ agrees that guidelines play an important role in clinical decision-making, but hard decisions had to be made about how to use the resources at our disposal," said Alison Hunt, a spokesperson for the agency, in a statement to The Daily Beast.

The operating budget for the National Guideline Clearinghouse last year was $1.2 million, Ms. Hunt said, and reductions in funding forced the agency's hand.

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