In recent years, there has been a focus on developing practice guidelines to facilitate the delivery of evidenced-based interventions. In order for practice guidelines to be useful, they must first be disseminated; however, some methods of dissemination may allow for the ability to publish resources of varying degrees of evidence-based support and quality. Thus, it is imperative that quality assessments of practice guidelines be conducted in order to guide practitioners is deciding which practice guidelines to follow.
To conduct a systematic search of practice guidelines for cannabis use treatment available via the internet and assess their quality.
The aim of this research was to review systematically web-based guidelines for treating cannabis use available in Australia. The review evaluated various aspects of guideline quality as well as overall guideline quality. Gaps and other areas in need of improvement were identified.
Seven practice guidelines were identified and subject to independent review. The quality of the guidelines was found to vary considerably. Quality was lowest with regard to the rigor of guideline development, applicability to practice and editorial independence. The effectiveness of dissemination strategies was also found to be suboptimal. A review of 166 treatment providers’ quality perceptions indicated they felt all guidelines were of acceptable quality though common barriers to use were a lack of time, guideline length, already being familiar with the content and believing a guideline was in conflict with their theoretical orientation.
The study identified high quality online cannabis practice guidelines, and highlighted areas in which guidelines are in need of improvement.