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Open Access Research article

Methodological quality of English-language genetic guidelines on hereditary breast-cancer screening and management: an evaluation using the AGREE instrument

Benedetto Simone1, Emma De Feo1, Nicola Nicolotti1, Walter Ricciardi1 and Stefania Boccia12*

Author affiliations

1 Institute of Hygiene, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, L.go F. Vito 1, 00168 Rome, Italy

2 IRCCS San Raffaele Pisana, Rome, Italy

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Citation and License

BMC Medicine 2012, 10:143  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-143

Published: 21 November 2012

Abstract

Background

We examined the methodological quality of guidelines on syndromes conferring genetic susceptibility to breast cancer.

Methods

PubMed, EMBASE, and Google were searched for guidelines published up to October 2010. All guidelines in English were included. The Appraisal of Guidelines, Research and Evaluation (AGREE) instrument was used to assess the quality of the guidelines, and their reported evidence base was evaluated.

Results

Thirteen guidelines were deemed eligible: seven had been developed by independent associations, and the other six had national/state endorsements. Four guidelines performed satisfactorily, achieving a score of greater than 50% in all six AGREE domains. Mean ± SD standardized scores for the six AGREE domains were: 90 ± 9% for 'scope and purpose', 51 ± 18% for 'stakeholder involvement', 55 ± 27% for 'rigour of development', 80 ± 11% for 'clarity and presentation', 37 ± 32% for 'applicability', and 47 ± 38% for 'editorial independence'. Ten of the thirteen guidelines were found to be based on research evidence.

Conclusions

Given the ethical implications and the high costs of genetic testing for hereditary breast cancer, guidelines on this topic should provide clear and evidence-based recommendations. Our analysis shows that there is scope for improving many aspects of the methodological quality of current guidelines. The AGREE instrument is a useful tool, and could be used profitably by guidelines developers to improve the quality of recommendations.

Keywords:
Breast cancer; BRCA1/2; Familial breast/ovarian cancer; Cancer screening; Cancer surveillance