A Systematic Critical Appraisal of Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Rehabilitation of Children With Moderate or Severe Acquired Brain Injury

Sarah Knight, Michael Takagi, Elizabeth Fisher, Vicki Anderson, Natasha A. Lannin, Emma Tavender, Adam Scheinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The aim of this review was to critically appraise the quality of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) for the rehabilitation of children with moderate or severe acquired brain injury (ABI). Data Sources: A systematic search of MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Embase, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library was conducted and an extensive website search of prominent professional rehabilitation society websites. Study Selection: CPGs were eligible for inclusion if they incorporated recommendation statements for inpatient and/or community rehabilitation for children with ABI and they were based on a systematic evidence search. Data Extraction: Methodological quality of eligible CPGs were appraised by 3 independent reviewers using the AGREE II instrument. Characteristics of eligible CPGs and strength of supporting evidence for included recommendations were extracted. Data Synthesis: Of the 9 included guidelines, 2 covered all ABIs, 5 focused specifically on traumatic brain injury, and 2 on stroke. Five of the CPGs were classified as high quality and 4 were of average quality. In general, CPGs scored better for scope and purpose, rigor of development, and clarity of presentation. They scored most poorly in applicability, involvement of target users, and procedures for updating the guidelines. Interrater reliability for the AGREE II was generally high across domains. Very few of the 445 recommendations included across the 9 CPGs were evidence based. Conclusions: Despite variability in quality of the guideline development process, the included CPGs generally provided clear descriptions of their overall objectives, scope and purpose, employed systematic methods for searching, selecting, and appraising research evidence, and produced unambiguous, clearly identifiable recommendations for children with ABI. Overall, existing CPGs focusing on rehabilitation for children with ABI are based on low-quality evidence or expert consensus. Future work should focus on addressing the limitations of most of the current CPGs, particularly related to supporting implementation and integrating stakeholder involvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)711-723
Number of pages13
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Clinical practice guideline
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Rehabilitation

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