Sexual and reproductive health

Guideline development

Keeping global recommendations up-to-date: A 'living guidelines' approach to maternal and perinatal health

19 August 2019 | An article published today in BMJ Global Health describes an innovative, dynamic approach that is being used by WHO to respond to new, important evidence in the area of maternal and perinatal health. This new approach, called “living guidelines”, uses a combination of continuous literature surveillance, rapid updating of prioritized systematic reviews and virtual consultations with “living guideline” panels to update and develop new WHO recommendations. This can ensure that the latest evidence and updated recommendations can reach health workers worldwide as quickly as possible.

Using qualitative research to strengthen guideline development

8 August 2019 | In a drive to include perspectives from end users and health care providers, WHO has published three open access manuscripts in the journal Health Research and Systems to look at how to incorporate qualitative data into guideline development methods. Qualitative research explores people’s needs, values, perceptions and their experiences of the world around them. This includes their health or illness, healthcare services, and more broadly, social systems and their policies and processes.

Enhancing WHO’s standard guideline development methods

28 January 2019 | Recommendations in WHO guidelines are based on sound scientific evidence. Fundamental steps in the process for guideline development include formulating key questions, evidence retrieval and synthesis, and appraisal of the quality of the evidence. But the methods used in these steps were originally conceived for the development of clinical interventions as part of the evidence-based medicine movement. Today, WHO develops guidelines on a broad array of clinical, public health, health system, health promotion and implementation strategies. These interventions are often highly context-specific, with multiple factors that directly and indirectly impact the health and societal outcomes.

New series published to support the use of qualitative research in decision-making

Health care workers reviewing files together.
HRP/Mark Leong

25 January 2018 | In recognition of the need to guide researchers in combining and analysing findings from qualitative evidence syntheses, a series of ‘how-to’ papers about applying a new methodology for qualitative evidence syntheses, has been published in the journal Implementation Science.

Guidelines Review Committee (GRC)

The GRC was established by the Director General in 2007 to ensure that WHO guidelines are of a high methodological quality and are developed through a transparent, evidence-based decision-making process.

Over 40 guidelines on sexual and reproductive health

The Department of Reproductive Health and Research has developed more than 40 guidelines covering health topics such as cervical cancer, contraception, female genital mutilation, pregnancy and child birth, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unsafe abortion, violence against women.