The panel should be composed of a multidisciplinary group of people that includes all the relevant expertise and skills, as well as all stakeholder perspectives. The structure of a guideline group or panel will vary from guideline to guideline but should include a guideline committee (that considers the evidence and draft recommendations) and the guideline developers and methodologist (who identify, assess and synthesise evidence). Establishing the guideline group typically starts with targeted calls for applications to ensure all relevant stakeholders’ perspectives are included.
Team composition for both CPGs and HTAs are broadly consistent. For CPGs, potential team members typically include (see details from the GIN McMaster Checklist):
- Clinicians (including all the fields and specialisation areas involved in the management of the disease or condition of interest)
- Patients, patient partners (carers or family members) or patient representatives
- Health economists
- Public health experts
For both HTAs and CPGs, experts in data analysis and synthesis for both quantitative and qualitative data is essential. Expertise in ethical, legal and socio-cultural aspects is likely to be relevant in addition to the expertise listed above to ensure fair and reasonable policy decisions are made. The guideline group/panel is also responsible to for establishing clear a priori guideline questions and outcomes (including rating outcomes for importance).
Once the guideline group is established, a key step is the disclosure and handling of potential conflicts of interest of all members of the group. This step is important to keep the process as trusted and unbiased as possible and is a cornerstone of the legitimacy of the guideline recommendations. Before the guideline processes can start, signed agreements outlining roles, expectations, deliverable dates, timelines, and any terms of management are essential.