Publications & Reports

The Australian living guidelines for the clinical care of people with COVID-19: What worked, what didn't and why, a mixed methods process evaluation.

Turner T, Elliott J, Tendal B, Vogel JP, Norris S, Tate R, Green S; National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce.
School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.


INTRODUCTION: The Australian National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce is producing living, evidence-based, national guidelines for treatment of people with COVID-19 which are updated each week. To continually improve the process and outputs of the Taskforce, and inform future living guideline development, we undertook a concurrent process evaluation examining Taskforce activities and experience of team members and stakeholders during the first 5 months of the project. METHODS: The mixed-methods process evaluation consisted of activity and progress audits, an online survey of all Taskforce participants; and semi-structured interviews with key contributors. Data were collected through five, prospective 4-weekly timepoints (beginning first week of May 2020) and three, fortnightly retrospective timepoints (March 23, April 6 and 20). We collected and analysed quantitative and qualitative data. RESULTS: An updated version of the guidelines was successfully published every week during the process evaluation. The Taskforce formed in March 2020, with a nominal start date of March 23. The first version of the guideline was published two weeks later and included 10 recommendations. By August 24, in the final round of the process evaluation, the team of 11 staff, working with seven guideline panels and over 200 health decision-makers, had developed 66 recommendations addressing 58 topics. The Taskforce website had received over 200,000 page views. Satisfaction with the work of the Taskforce remained very high (>90% extremely or somewhat satisfied) throughout. Several key strengths, challenges and methods questions for the work of the Taskforce were identified. CONCLUSIONS: In just over 5 months of activity, the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce published 20 weekly updates to the evidence-based national treatment guidelines for COVID-19. This process evaluation identified several factors that enabled this achievement (e.g. an extant skill base in evidence review and convening), along with challenges that needed to be overcome (e.g. managing workloads, structure and governance) and methods questions (pace of updating, and thresholds for inclusion of evidence) which may be useful considerations for other living guidelines projects. An impact evaluation is also being conducted separately to examine awareness, acceptance and use of the guidelines.

Link to publisher’s web site


  • Journal: PloS One
  • Published: 07/01/2022
  • Volume: 17
  • Issue: 1
  • Pagination: e0261479