OBJECTIVE: To develop a method for adapting the best available cancer practice guidelines (CPGs) to the regional oncology network in Piedmont (NW of Italy, with about 4.3 million residents). METHODS: Four CPG were developed by multidisciplinary working groups, involving local opinion leaders, coordinated by the same team (including epidemiologists and health economists). The major features of these guidelines were: (a) to cover all the phases ofthe disease (from diagnosis to palliative care); (b) to satisfy common standards for evidence based guidelines; (c) to be coherent with the local health organization and resource availability. In the first three CPGs, regarding common cancers (colon-rectum, breast, lung), recommendations were graded according to the underlying level of evidence, from A to C, and treatment was organized by specialty. In the last guideline, regarding a rare condition (soft tissue sarcomas, STS), a grading system reflecting also the clinical importance of the decision was adopted and treatment recommendations were organized by clinical scenarios. In each guideline, some implementation tools, including a set of process and outcome indicators for audit monitoring, were provided. RESULTS: The four CPGs have been published between 2001 and 2004. The number ofrecommendations ranged between 38 (STS) and 103 (colon-rectum), with some differences in the distribution by specialty and grading. The CPGs have been disseminated through the oncology network and local health coordinators have been involved in the implementation. The impact of the CPGs is being evaluated by different approaches (analyses of administrative data, sample surveys and user's interviews). CONCLUSIONS: To adapt evidence based guidelines to a specific regional health organization is feasible and may be usefil for diseases requiring a multidisciplinary approach and continuity of care.
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