Aims and objectives. The objective of this study was to identify and to assess the quality of evidence-based guidelines and systematic reviews we used in the case of oral mucositis, to apply general quality criteria for the prevention and treatment of oral mucositis in patients receiving chemotherapy, radiotherapy or both.
Design. Systematic review.
Methods. Literature searches were carried out in several electronic databases and websites.
Publications were included if they concerned oral mucositis involving adults treated for cancer and had been published after 1 January 2000. As far as systematic reviews were concerned, the article had to report a search strategy, if the search was minimally conducted in the database PubMed or Medline and the articles included in the review were subjected to some kind of methodological assessment.
The Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Education (AGREE) instrument was used to assess the quality of the guidelines and the Overview Quality Assessment Questionnaire (OQAQ) was used for the quality of systematic reviews.
Results. Thirty-one articles met the inclusion criteria of which 11 were guidelines and 20 were systematic reviews. Nine of the 11 guidelines did not explicitly describe how they identified, selected and summarised the available evidence. Reviews suffered from lack of clarity, for instance, in performing a thorough literature search. The quality varied among the different guidelines and reviews.
Conclusion. Most guidelines and systematic reviews had serious methodological flaws.
Relevance to clinical practice. There is a need to improve the methodological quality of guidelines and systematic reviews for the prevention and treatment of oral mucositis if they are to be used in clinical practice.