Tools for tracking down guidelines

Locating clinical practice guidelines can be challenging. Many are simply posted on the Internet rather than being published in scholarly journals; thus, they escape the notice of medical databases such as Medline. Additionally, the US National Guideline Clearinghouse ( was shut down in 2018 after US federal funding was cut. So what is left? Here are some recommended sources.

CMA CPG Infobase ( is a free directory of guidelines from the last 5 years by Canadian health organizations. Given that the small number of Canadian clinical practice guidelines can be hard to find in the larger volume of international content, a Canadian source such as this is crucial.

ECRI Institute. The ECRI Institute is building a free directory of clinical practice guidelines, the ECRI Guidelines Trust ( US National Guideline Clearinghouse records were not made available, so the new directory must be built from the ground up. The directory includes summaries and links to full-text documents, and ratings on trustworthiness. Free registration is required.

International Guideline Library. The International Guideline Library ( is a public directory from the not-for-profit Guidelines International Network. The linking function requires a membership, but consider using the site as a search tool and then locate the full-text guidelines using a title search in Google, or ask your library for a copy.

Medline. While incomplete, Medline remains a worthwhile site for locating clinical practice guidelines. Using (, in the search results, limit the Article Types to “Guideline.” 

National Institute for Health and Care. Results from the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s Evidence Search ( can be filtered for guidelines.

Finally, explore the guidelines cited in point-of-care tools such as DynaMed, UpToDate, or BMJ Best Practice, and try using Internet search engines such as Google.

College librarians are available to locate guidelines for registrants of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia. You are invited to call the library at 604 733-6671 or email
—Karen MacDonell
Director, Library Services


This article is the opinion of the Library of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC and has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.

Karen MacDonell, PhD, MLIS. Tools for tracking down guidelines. BCMJ, Vol. 61, No. 1, January, February, 2019, Page(s) 40 - College Library.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
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About the ICMJE and citation styles

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