Clinical guidelines in pediatric headache: evaluation of quality using the AGREE II instrument

Pasquale Parisi, Nicola Vanacore, Vincenzo Belcastro, Marco Carotenuto, Ennio Del Giudice, Rosanna Mariani, Laura Papetti, Piero Pavone, Salvatore Savasta, Pasquale Striano, Irene Toldo, Elisabetta Tozzi, Alberto Verrotti, Umberto Raucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE II) tool is a validated questionnaire used to assess the methodological quality of clinical guidelines (CGs). We used the AGREE II tool to assess the development process, the methodological quality, and the quality of reporting of available pediatric CGs for the management of headache in children. We also studied the variability in responses related to the characteristics of eleven Italian neuropediatric centers, showing similarities and differences in the main recommendations reported in CGs.

Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted from January 2002 to June 2013 on Mediline, the Cochrane database, the National Guideline Clearinghouse website and the NHS evidence search tool, using the following terms: headache, cephalalgia, guidelines and children (MESH or text words). Six CGs providing information on the diagnosis and management of headache and specific recommendations for children were selected. Eleven neuropediatric centers assessed the overall quality and the appropriateness of all available CGs using of the AGREE II instrument.

Results: Six CGs meeting the inclusion and exclusion criteria were identified and assessed by 11 reviewers. Our study showed that the NICE CGs was “strongly recommended” while the French and Danish CGs were mainly “not recommended”. The comparison between the overall quality score of the French CGs and the NICE CGs was statistically significant (6.54 ± 0.69 vs 4.18 ± 1.08; p =0.001). The correlation analysis between quality domain score and guideline publication date showed a statistically significant association only for the “editorial independence” domain (r = 0.842 p = 0.035). The intra-class coefficients showed that the 11 reviewers had the highest agreement for the Lewis CGs (r = 0.857), and the lowest one for the NICE CGs (r = 0.656). Statistical analyses showed that professionals from outpatient services dedicated pediatric headache assigned a higher overall quality score to the NICE CGs as compared to professionals from non-outpatient services (6.86 ± 0.38 vs 6.0 ± 0.82; p = 0.038).

Conclusions: CGs resulted definitely of low-moderate quality and non “homogeneous”. Further major efforts are needed to update the existing CGs according to the principles of evidence based medicine.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Headache and Pain
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Agree II instrument
  • Children
  • Guidelines
  • Pediatric headache
  • Quality of guidelines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Medicine(all)


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