European Cancer Organisation

Clinical guidelines

Last update: March 2013 

At a Forum on Multidisciplinary Clinical Guidelines in Oncology held on 29 May 2012, ECCO member societies met to explore the potential added value for the societies to collaborate in some areas of the clinical guidelines development in order to increase quality and use of European guidelines.

Dirk Schrijvers, ECCO Education Chair, presented the results of a survey carried in 2010 among European Oncology societies including all ECCO members based on the ‘Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation’ (AGREE) tool, within the Eurocancercoms project. Results demonstrated that many cancer organisations are developing guidelines.

More on the survey

Societies’ representatives presented the activities, strategies and future plans of their societies in the area of clinical guidelines. The presentations revealed that all together a significant amount of work is devoted by the societies to guidelines, on a variety of activities, variable for each society.

A general consensus regarding the importance of multidisciplinary guidelines and the need for European societies to collaborate in some areas of the development of European multidisciplinary guidelines was reached. It was agreed that a standard operating procedure (SOP) or checklist with quality indicators for the development of multidisciplinary guidelines would be a useful tool. A working group with representatives from the ECCO member societies as well as the European Association of Palliative Care (EAPC) and the ECCO Patient Advisory Committee was created to discuss and propose quality indicators. It will also discuss what could be the potential strengths/added value of an endorsement/accreditation process.

Based on the consensus paper delivered by the working group and presented by the Chair of the working group, Dr Dirk Schrijvers, to the ECCO Board on 12 February 2013, the following quality criteria and the ECCO role were agreed upon by the ECCO Board.

ECCO Quality criteria

  • Guidelines are multidisciplinary and developed with the involvement of representatives of the relevant European societies.
  • Guidelines are developed using validated methodologies that are explicit and transparent.
  • A conflict of interest policy is in place and transparent.
  • Representatives of patient organizations are involved in the guideline development when patient care is included in the scope of the guideline.

Role of ECCO

  • ECCO will serve as a switchboard for its members and other European societies to inform each other of the development of new multidisciplinary guidelines so that all interested societies can be involved. This functionality is offered to ECCO members and other European societies as a way to facilitate collaboration between relevant disciplines and develop multidisciplinary guidelines. It is not required to use this switchboard to subsequently submit the guidelines for ECCO endorsement.
  • Upon submission by the development group, ECCO will endorse multidisciplinary guidelines that fulfill the quality criteria.
  • ECCO will disseminate the European multidisciplinary guidelines that have been endorsed. This will be done notably through a dedicated webpage (with links).
  • ECCO will represent the voice of oncology on European oncology guidelines at the EU policy level.

An action plan is under development to implement the decisions of the ECCO Board.

Read the consensus paper.

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