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Agency for Healthcare Research Quality

The National Guideline Clearinghouse™

Fact Sheet

This fact sheet describes the National Guideline Clearinghouse™, online at

What is the National Guideline Clearinghouse™?

The National Guideline Clearinghouse™ (NGC) is a publicly available database of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines and related documents. It provides Internet users with free online access to guidelines at

Updated weekly with new content, the NGC is produced by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ, formerly the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research [AHCPR]), in partnership with the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Association of Health Plans (AAHP) Foundation.

What Are the Major Features of the NGC?

Key components of the NGC include:

  • Structured, standardized abstracts (summaries) about each guideline and its development.
  • A utility for comparing attributes of two or more guidelines in a side-by-side comparison.
  • Syntheses of guidelines covering similar topics, highlighting areas of similarity and difference.
  • Links to full-text guidelines, where available, and/or ordering information for print copies.
  • Annotated bibliographies on guideline development methodology, structure, implementation, and evaluation.

Other user-friendly features include:

  • What's New, which enables users to see what guidelines have been added each week and includes an index of all guidelines in the NGC.
  • NGC-L Discussion List, an electronic forum for exchanging information on clinical practice guideline development methodology, dissemination, implementation, and evaluation.
  • NGC Update Service, a weekly electronic mailing of new guidelines and updates to existing guidelines being posted to the NGC Web site.
  • Detailed Search, which enables users to limit their online searches to guidelines that target a particular population group or publication year, include patient resources, and/or incorporate certain developmental criteria, such as a clinical algorithm or implementation plan.
  • NGC Browse, which permits users to scan guidelines available on the NGC site by disease/condition, treatment/intervention, or guideline issuing organization.

What Criteria Must Guidelines Meet?

For a clinical practice guideline to be considered for the NGC, it must meet these criteria:

  • The guideline must contain systematically developed recommendations, strategies, or other information to assist health care decisionmaking in specific clinical circumstances.
  • The guideline must have been produced under the auspices of a relevant professional organization (e.g., medical specialty society, government agency, health care organization, or health plan).
  • The guideline development process must have included a verifiable, systematic literature search and review of existing evidence published in peer-reviewed journals.
  • The guideline must be current and the most recent version (i.e., developed, reviewed, or revised within the last 5 years).
Who Uses the NGC?

The NGC provides varied audiences with an easy-to-use mechanism for obtaining objective, detailed information on clinical practice guidelines:

  • Individual physicians and other clinicians can review and use the NGC in clinical decisionmaking and patient counseling.
  • Health care organizations and integrated delivery systems can use information accessible through the NGC to adopt or adapt guidelines for their networks.
  • Medical specialty and professional societies can use NGC resources in their own guideline development efforts.
  • Employers and other large purchasers can use information from the NGC to assist them in making health care benefits purchasing decisions.
  • Educational institutions can incorporate information accessible through the NGC into their curricula and continuing education activities.
  • State and local governments can use the NGC in their quality assurance and program oversight efforts.

How Are Guidelines Submitted to the NGC?

Organizations interested in contributing guidelines should send:

  1. Two hard copies of the guideline along with an electronic version, if available.
  2. Information on how the guideline was developed, if not included in the guideline document.
  3. The name, street address, telephone and FAX numbers, and E-mail address of an appropriate contact person to:

Vivian Coates
NGC Project Director
5200 Butler Pike
Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

Hardware and Software Requirements

The National Guideline Clearinghouse™ offers a Frames/Graphics site and a Non-Frames/Text Only site. The Non-Frames/Text Only site is used with screen readers and is recommended to any user with a browser that cannot handle tables, frames, and/or graphics.

The NGC makes extensive use of frames and tables in its Frames/Graphics site and is most easily used with current copies of Netscape Navigator/Communicator (version 3.0 or higher) or Microsoft® Internet Explorer (version 3.02 or higher). Netscape Navigator 2.02 (Windows®) and 2.0 (Macintosh), Lynx 2.8 (Text Only site), and AOL 4.0 (Windows®) have also been tested for compatibility with the NGC.

For More Information

More information on the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ can be obtained from the NGC Web site ( or by contacting:

Jean Slutsky
NGC Project Officer
Center for Practice and Technology Assessment/AHRQ
540 Gaither Road, Suite 6000
Rockville, MD 20852
Phone: (301) 427-1600
Fax: (301) 427-1639

Users may also contact the NGC by E-mail ( for more information on the guideline submission process or other features of the NGC.

A CD-ROM tutorial on accessing and using the NGC is available without charge from:

The AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse
P.O. Box 8547
Silver Spring, MD 20907
Phone: 800-358-9295 (outside the United States, please call 410-381-3150)

Users should request the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ Tutorial (AHRQ Publication No. 00-DP004).

AHRQ Publication No. 00-0047
Current as of July 2000

Internet Citation:

The National Guideline Clearinghouse™. Fact Sheet. AHRQ Publication No. 00-0047, July 2000. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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