Medical consensus is a public statement on a particular aspect of medical knowledge available at the time it was written, and that is generally agreed upon as the evidence-based, state-of-the-art (or state-of-science) knowledge by a representative group of experts in that area. Its main objective is to counsel physicians on the best possible and acceptable way to diagnose and treat certain diseases or how to address a particular decision-making area. Therefore, it can be considered an authoritative, community-based consensus decision-making and publication process.
There are many ways of producing medical consensus, but the most usual way is to convene an independent panel of experts, either by a medical association or by a governmental authority. In the United States, for example, the National Institutes of Health promotes about five to six consensus panels per year, and organizes this knowledge by means of a special Consensus Development Program, managed by the NIH's Office of Disease Prevention (ODP). The statements are available in printed form as well as for downloading from the Internet (see link below).
Since consensus statements provide a "snapshot in time" of the state of knowledge in a particular topic, they must periodically be re-evaluated and published again, replacing the previous consensus statement.
Consensus statements differ from medical guidelines, another form of state-of-science public statements. According to the NIH, "Consensus statements synthesize new information, largely from recent or ongoing medical research, that has implications for reevaluation of routine medical practices. They do not give specific algorithms or guidelines for practice."
- Medical decision making
- Evidence-based medicine
- Medical literature
- Medical research
- Guideline (medical)
- Journal Club
- Algorithm (medical)
- Council of Europe. Developing a methodology for drawing up guidelines on best medical practice. Recommendation Rec(2001)13 and explanatory memorandum. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing, 2002.
- "Guidelines for Ensuring the Quality of Information Disseminated to the Public". United States Department of Health and Human Services. 13 December 2006. Retrieved 18 August 2013.