Suzanne Hill

University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Publications (33)200.17 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The World Health Organization (WHO), and a growing number of other organizations, have adopted the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) system in order to both assess the quality of research evidence and develop clinical practice guidelines. In 2009 WHO published a guideline on psychosocially assisted pharmacological treatment of opioid dependence, based on the results of Cochrane Reviews summarized using the GRADE methodology. The main features of this system are an a priori definition of outcomes and their relevance, and distinction between the quality of evidence (also referred to as confidence in the estimate of intervention effect) and the strength of recommendations. We consider how successful this approach has been. We discuss the merits and limitations of using Cochrane Reviews and GRADE framework in developing guidelines in the field of drug addiction. In 2009 a panel of multi-disciplinary international experts identified 15 clinical questions and eight relevant outcomes. Cochrane reviews were available for each clinical question and four outcomes. The panel formulated 15 recommendations. Eight recommendations were classified as strong, two of which were based on high-quality evidence and three on very low-quality evidence. For example, the strong recommendation to use methadone in adequate doses in preference to buprenorphine was based on high-quality evidence, while the strong recommendation not to use the combination of opioid antagonists with heavy sedation in the management of opioid withdrawal was based on low-quality evidence. An explicit stepwise process of moving from evaluation of the quality of evidence to the definition of the strength of recommendations is important in providing practical and clear clinical guidance for practitioners and policy-makers in addiction. © 2014 Society for the Study of Addiction.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2014 · Addiction
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    ABSTRACT: Financial ties between health professionals and industry may unduly influence professional judgments and some researchers have suggested that widening disease definitions may be one driver of over-diagnosis, bringing potentially unnecessary labeling and harm. We aimed to identify guidelines in which disease definitions were changed, to assess whether any proposed changes would increase the numbers of individuals considered to have the disease, whether potential harms of expanding disease definitions were investigated, and the extent of members' industry ties.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · PLoS Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: Background Healthcare decision makers face challenges when using guidelines, including understanding the quality of the evidence or the values and preferences upon which recommendations are made, which are often not clear. Methods GRADE is a systematic approach towards assessing the quality of evidence and the strength of recommendations in healthcare. GRADE also gives advice on how to go from evidence to decisions. It has been developed to address the weaknesses of other grading systems and is now widely used internationally. The Developing and Evaluating Communication Strategies to Support Informed Decisions and Practice Based on Evidence (DECIDE) consortium (, which includes members of the GRADE Working Group and other partners, will explore methods to ensure effective communication of evidence-based recommendations targeted at key stakeholders: healthcare professionals, policymakers, and managers, as well as patients and the general public. Surveys and interviews with guideline producers and other stakeholders will explore how presentation of the evidence could be improved to better meet their information needs. We will collect further stakeholder input from advisory groups, via consultations and user testing; this will be done across a wide range of healthcare systems in Europe, North America, and other countries. Targeted communication strategies will be developed, evaluated in randomized trials, refined, and assessed during the development of real guidelines. Discussion Results of the DECIDE project will improve the communication of evidence-based healthcare recommendations. Building on the work of the GRADE Working Group, DECIDE will develop and evaluate methods that address communication needs of guideline users. The project will produce strategies for communicating recommendations that have been rigorously evaluated in diverse settings, and it will support the transfer of research into practice in healthcare systems globally.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · Implementation Science
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    ABSTRACT: Background In an era when an increasing amount of clinical information is available to health care professionals, the effective implementation of clinical practice guidelines requires the development of strategies to facilitate the use of these guidelines. The objective of this study was to assess attitudes towards clinical practice guidelines, as well as the barriers and facilitators to their use, among Estonian physicians. The study was conducted to inform the revision of the clinical practice guideline development process and can provide inspiration to other countries considering the increasing use of evidence-based medicine. Methods We conducted an online survey of physicians to assess resource, system, and attitudinal barriers. We also asked a set of questions related to improving the use of clinical practice guidelines and collected free-text comments. We hypothesized that attitudes concerning guidelines may differ by gender, years of experience and practice setting. The study population consisted of physicians from the database of the Department of Continuing Medical Education of the University of Tartu. Differences between groups were analyzed using the Kruskal-Wallis non-parametric test. Results 41% (497/1212) of physicians in the database completed the questionnaire, comprising more than 10% of physicians in the country. Most respondents (79%) used treatment guidelines in their daily clinical practice. Lack of time was the barrier identified by the most physicians (42%), followed by lack of medical resources for implementation (32%). The majority of physicians disagreed with the statement that guidelines were not accessible (73%) or too complicated (70%). Physicians practicing in outpatient settings or for more than 25 years were the most likely to experience difficulties in guideline use. 95% of respondents agreed that an easy-to-find online database of guidelines would facilitate use. Conclusions Use of updated evidence-based guidelines is a prerequisite for the high-quality management of diseases, and recognizing the factors that affect guideline compliance makes it possible to work towards improving guideline adherence in clinical practice. In our study, physicians with long-term clinical experience and doctors in outpatient settings perceived more barriers, which should be taken into account when planning strategies in improving the use of guidelines. Informed by the results of the survey, leading health authorities are making an effort to develop specially designed interventions to implement clinical practice guidelines, including an easily accessible online database.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · BMC Health Services Research
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    ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION: Professional societies, like many other organizations around the world, have recognized the need to use more rigorous processes to ensure that healthcare recommendations are informed by the best available research evidence. This is the 11th of a series of 14 articles that methodologists and researchers from around the world prepared to advise guideline developers for respiratory and other diseases on how to achieve this goal. For this article, we developed five key questions and updated a review of the literature on moving from evidence to recommendations. METHODS: We addressed the following specific questions.What is the strength of a recommendation and what determines the strength? What are the implications of strong and weak recommendations for patients, clinicians, and policy makers? Should guideline panels make recommendations in the face of very low-quality evidence? Under which circumstances should guideline panels make research recommendations? How should recommendations be formulated and presented? We searched PubMed and other databases of methodological studies for existing systematic reviews and relevant methodological research. We did not conduct systematic reviews ourselves. Our conclusions are based on available evidence, consideration of what guideline developers are doing, and pre- and postworkshop discussions. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The strength of a recommendation reflects the extent to which guideline developers can, across the range of patients for whom the recommendations are intended, be confident that the desirable effects of following the recommendation outweigh the undesirable effects. Four factors influence the strength of a recommendation: the quality of evidence supporting the recommendation, the balance between desirable and undesirable effects, the uncertainty or variability of patient values and preferences, and costs. Strong and weak (also called "conditional") recommendations have distinct implications for patients, clinicians, and policy makers. Adherence to strong recommendations or, in the case of weak (conditional) recommendations, documentation of discussion or shared decision making with a patient, might be used as quality measures or performance indicators. Clinicians desire guidance regardless of the quality of the underlying evidence. Very low-quality evidence should ideally result in either appropriately labeled recommendations (i.e., as based on very low-quality evidence) or a statement that the guideline panel did not reach consensus on the recommendation due to the lack of confidence in the effect estimates. However, guideline panels often have more resources, time, and information than practicing clinicians. Therefore, they may be in a position to use their best judgments to make recommendations even when there is very low-quality evidence, although some guideline developers disagree with this approach and prefer a general approach of not making recommendations in the face of very low-quality evidence. Guideline panels should consider making research recommendations when there is important uncertainty about the desirable and undesirable effects of an intervention, further research could reduce that uncertainty, and the potential benefits and savings of reducing the uncertainty outweigh the potential harms of not making the research recommendation. Recommendations for additional research should be as precise and specific as possible.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society
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    ABSTRACT: Clinical practice guidelines are one of the tools available to improve the quality of health care. However, it may be difficult for countries to develop their own national guidelines "from scratch" because of limitations in time, expertise, and financial resources. The Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF), in collaboration with other stakeholders, has launched a national effort to develop and implement evidence-based clinical practice guidelines aimed at improving the quality of care. Although the first EHIF handbook for preparing guidelines was published in 2004, there has been wide variation in the format and quality of guidelines prepared by medical specialty societies, EHIF, and other organizations in Estonia. An additional challenge to guideline development in Estonia is that it is a country with limited human resources. Therefore, revision of the Estonian guideline process was aimed at developing an efficient method for adapting current high-quality guidelines to the Estonian setting without compromising their quality. In 2010, a comprehensive assessment of guideline development in Estonia was made by the World Health Organization, EHIF, the Medical Faculty at the University of Tartu, and selected national and international experts in an effort to streamline and harmonize the principles and processes of guideline development in Estonia. This study summarizes the evaluation of and revisions to the process. Estonia has made substantial changes in its processes of clinical practice guideline development and implementation as part of an overall program aiming for systematic quality improvement in health care. This experience may be relevant to other small or resource-limited countries.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2012 · Journal of clinical epidemiology
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: In this article, we describe how to include considerations about resource utilization when making recommendations according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) approach. Study design and settings: We focus on challenges with rating the confidence in effect estimates (quality of evidence) and incorporating resource use into evidence profiles and Summary of Findings (SoF) tables. Results: GRADE recommends that important differences in resource use between alternative management strategies should be included along with other important outcomes in the evidence profile and SoF table. Key steps in considering resources in making recommendations with GRADE are the identification of items of resource use that may differ between alternative management strategies and that are potentially important to decision makers, finding evidence for the differences in resource use, making judgments regarding confidence in effect estimates using the same criteria used for health outcomes, and valuing the resource use in terms of costs for the specific setting for which recommendations are being made. Conclusions: With our framework, decision makers will have access to concise summaries of recommendations, including ratings of the quality of economic evidence, and better understand the implications for clinical decision making.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2012 · Journal of clinical epidemiology
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    Suzanne Hill · Annie Yang · Lisa Bero
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    ABSTRACT: In April 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a list of "priority medicines" for maternal and child health based on 1) the global burden of disease and 2) evidence of efficacy and safety. The objective of this study was to examine the occurrence of these priority medicines on national essential medicines lists. All essential medicines lists published since 1999 were selected from the WHO website collection. The most-up-to date list for each country was then selected, resulting in 89 unique country lists. Each list was evaluated for inclusion of medicines (chemical entity, concentration, and dosage form) on the Priority Medicines List. There was global variation in the listing of the Priority Medicines. The most frequently listed medicine was paracetamol, on 94% (84/89) of lists. Sodium chloride, gentamicin and oral rehydration solution were on 93% (83/89) of lists. The least frequently listed medicine was the children's antimalarial rectal artesunate, on 8% of lists (7/89); artesunate injection was on 16% (14/89) of lists. Pediatric artemisinin combination therapy, as dispersible tablets or flexible oral solid dosage form, appeared on 36% (32/89) of lists. Procaine benzylpenicillin, for treatment of pediatric pneumonia and neonatal sepsis, was on 50% (45/89) of the lists. Zinc, for treatment of diarrhoea in children, was included on only 15% (13/89) of lists. For prevention and treatment of postpartum hemorrhage in women, oxytocin was more prevalent on the lists than misoprostol; they were included on 55 (62%) and 31 (35%) of lists, respectively. Cefixime, for treatment of uncomplicated anogenital gonococcal infection in woman was on 26% (23/89) of lists. Magnesium sulfate injection for treatment of severe pre-eclampsia and eclampsia was on 50% (45/89) of the lists. The findings suggest that countries need to urgently amend their lists to provide all priority medicines as part of the efforts to improve maternal and child health.
    Preview · Article · May 2012 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: This article describes how the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach to grading the quality of evidence and strength of recommendations considers the Bradford Hill criteria for causation and how GRADE may relate to questions in public health. A primary concern in public health is that evidence from non-randomised studies may provide a more adequate or best available measure of a public health strategy's impact, but that such evidence might be graded as lower quality in the GRADE framework. GRADE, however, presents a framework that describes both criteria for assessing the quality of research evidence and the strength of recommendations that includes considerations arising from the Bradford Hill criteria. GRADE places emphasis on recommendations and in assessing quality of evidence; GRADE notes that randomisation is only one of many relevant factors. This article describes how causation may relate to developing recommendations and how the Bradford Hill criteria are considered in GRADE, using examples from the public health literature with a focus on immunisation.
    Preview · Article · May 2011 · Journal of epidemiology and community health
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    Lisa Bero · Brittany Carson · Helene Moller · Suzanne Hill
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    ABSTRACT: to assess drug donations in terms of their adherence to the drug donation guidelines put forth by the World Health Organization (WHO). in 2009 we searched the academic and lay literature - journal articles, media articles and industry and donor web sites - to identify reports about drug donations made from 2000 to 2008. Publications focusing on molecular mechanisms of drug action, general descriptions of guidelines or specific one-time drug donations before 2000 were excluded. For cases with sufficient information, we assessed compliance with each of the 12 articles of WHO's guidelines. we found 95 articles describing 96 incidents of drug donations between 2000 and 2008. Of these, 50 were made in response to disaster situations, 43 involved the long-term donation of a drug to treat a specific disease and 3 were drug recycling cases. Disaster-related donations were less likely to comply with the guidelines, particularly in terms of meeting the recipient's needs, quality assurance and shelf-life, packaging and labelling, and information management. Recipient countries were burdened with the costs of destroying the drugs received through inappropriate donations. Although long-term donations were more likely to comply with WHO guidelines related to quality assurance and labelling, they did not consistently meet the needs of the recipients. Furthermore, they discouraged local drug production and development. drug donations can do more harm than good for the recipient countries. Strengthening the structures and systems for coordinating and monitoring drug donations and ensuring that these are driven by recipient needs will improve adherence to the drug donation guidelines set forth by WHO.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2010 · Bulletin of the World Health Organisation
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    ABSTRACT: GRADE is an approach for creating clinical practice guidelines based on an explicit assessment of the evidence base. GRADE is not a system for performing systematic reviews and meta-analyses (it is not a systematic review tool as, for example, the RevMan software of the Cochrane Collaboration at The GRADE approach is suitable for (a) summarizing the evidence extracted from systematic reviews and meta-analyses into "Summary of Findings (SoF) tables"; (b) grading the quality of evidence summarized in SoF tables; and (c) grading the strength of treatment recommendations. GRADE separates the judgment on quality of evidence from strength of recommendations. An application called GRADE Profiler (GRADEpro) has been developed to summarize the evidence and grade its quality. GRADEpro can be freely downloaded at Additional information on the GRADE methodology and on the GRADE working group can be found at
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2010 · PLoS Medicine
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    Full-text · Article · Jul 2010 · The Lancet

  • No preview · Chapter · Nov 2007
  • Nick Freemantle · Suzanne Hill
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    ABSTRACT: health policy;world health organization;pharmaceuticals;clinical trials;health insurance
    No preview · Article · Nov 2007
  • Suzanne Hill · David A. Henry

    No preview · Chapter · Mar 2007
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    ABSTRACT: The authors set out to compare spending priorities for health care, across a selection of largely middle-income countries, through a survey of current and future decision makers.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2007 · PLoS Medicine

  • No preview · Article · Jan 2007

  • No preview · Chapter · Apr 2006
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    ABSTRACT: It is believed that pharmaceutical industry sponsorship of clinical research leads to the development of multiple ties between clinicians and the pharmaceutical industry. To quantify this relationship we conducted a survey of medical specialists listed in the Medical Directory of Australia in 2002 and 2003. A questionnaire was mailed that elicited information about all aspects of research relationships between clinicians and pharmaceutical companies. The odds of reporting multiple additional ties (financial and professional) with pharmaceutical companies by clinicians who had an active research relationship were compared with those who did not. All clinicians who returned a completed questionnaire about their research activities were included in the study. A questionnaire was mailed to 2120 medical specialists; 823 (39%) responded. Of these, 338 (41%) reported involvement in industry-sponsored research in the previous year. They were more likely than others to have been offered industry-sponsored items or activities valued at more than 500 AU dollars (>382 US dollars; odds ratio [OR], 3.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.6-4.7) and support for attending international conferences (OR, 5.4; 95% CI, 3.9-7.4). The strongest associations were seen for acting as a paid consultant to industry (OR, 9.0; 95% CI, 3.9-20.4) and for membership on advisory boards (OR, 6.9; 95% CI, 5.1-9.6). There was a strong relationship between research collaboration and accumulation of industry ties. For 1 additional tie the OR was 2.2 (95% CI, 1.2-3.8) and rose to 6.3 (95% CI, 3.5-11.1) with 3 ties and 41.8 (95% CI, 14.5-143.4) with 6 or more ties. Medical specialists who have research relationships with the pharmaceutical industry are much more likely to have multiple additional ties than those who do not have research relationships. Institutional review should discourage clinical researchers from developing multiple ties.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2005 · Archives of Internal Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: Systems that are used by different organisations to grade the quality of evidence and the strength of recommendations vary. They have different strengths and weaknesses. The GRADE Working Group has developed an approach that addresses key shortcomings in these systems. The aim of this study was to pilot test and further develop the GRADE approach to grading evidence and recommendations. A GRADE evidence profile consists of two tables: a quality assessment and a summary of findings. Twelve evidence profiles were used in this pilot study. Each evidence profile was made based on information available in a systematic review. Seventeen people were given instructions and independently graded the level of evidence and strength of recommendation for each of the 12 evidence profiles. For each example judgements were collected, summarised and discussed in the group with the aim of improving the proposed grading system. Kappas were calculated as a measure of chance-corrected agreement for the quality of evidence for each outcome for each of the twelve evidence profiles. The seventeen judges were also asked about the ease of understanding and the sensibility of the approach. All of the judgements were recorded and disagreements discussed. There was a varied amount of agreement on the quality of evidence for the outcomes relating to each of the twelve questions (kappa coefficients for agreement beyond chance ranged from 0 to 0.82). However, there was fair agreement about the relative importance of each outcome. There was poor agreement about the balance of benefits and harms and recommendations. Most of the disagreements were easily resolved through discussion. In general we found the GRADE approach to be clear, understandable and sensible. Some modifications were made in the approach and it was agreed that more information was needed in the evidence profiles. Judgements about evidence and recommendations are complex. Some subjectivity, especially regarding recommendations, is unavoidable. We believe our system for guiding these complex judgements appropriately balances the need for simplicity with the need for full and transparent consideration of all important issues.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2005 · BMC Health Services Research

Publication Stats

3k Citations
200.17 Total Impact Points


  • 2014
    • University of Melbourne
      • Department of Medicine
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 2013
    • Australian National University
      Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  • 2010-2012
    • World Health Organization WHO
      Genève, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 1999-2002
    • University of Newcastle
      • Discipline of Clinical Pharmacology and Clinical Toxicology
      Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
  • 1997
    • Newcastle University
      Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, United Kingdom