Awareness, value and use of the Australian living guidelines for the clinical care of people with COVID-19: an impact evaluation

Tanya Millard, Julian H. Elliott, Sally Green, Britta Tendal, Joshua P. Vogel, Sarah Norris, Rhiannon Tate, Tari Turner, the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce, Sutapa Mukherjee, Megan Cooper, Allen Cheng, Deidre Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background and Objective: The Australian National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce is developing living, evidence-based, national guidelines for treatment of people with COVID-19. These living guidelines are updated each week. We undertook an impact evaluation to understand the extent to which health professionals providing treatment to people with COVID 19 were aware of, valued and used the guidelines, and the factors that enabled or hampered this.

Methods: A mixed methods approach was used for the evaluation. Surveys were conducted to collect both quantitative and qualitative data and were supplemented with qualitative interviews. Australian healthcare practitioners potentially providing care to individuals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 were invited to participate. Data were collected on guideline awareness, relevance, ease of use, trustworthiness, value, importance of updating, use, and strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Results: A total of 287 people completed the surveys and 10 interviews were conducted during November 2020. Awareness of the work of the Taskforce was high and the vast majority of respondents reported that the guidelines were very or extremely relevant, easy to use, trustworthy and valuable. More than 50% of respondents had used the guidelines to support their own clinical decision-making; and 30% were aware of other examples of the guidelines being used. Qualitative data revealed that amongst an overwhelming morass of evidence and opinions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the guidelines have been a reliable, united source of evidence-based advice; participants felt the guidelines built confidence and provided reassurance in clinical decision-making. Opportunities to improve awareness and accessibility to the guidelines were also explored.

Conclusions: As of June 2021, the guidelines have been published and updated more than 40 times, include more than 140 recommendations and are being used to inform clinical decisions. The findings of this impact evaluation will be used to improve processes and outputs of the Taskforce and guidelines project, and to inform future living guideline projects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Australia
  • Impact evaluation
  • Living evidence synthesis
  • evidence-based guidelines


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