Evidence is required for producing public health and clinical guidance. Evidence resulting from systematic literature reviews is preferred to assist in the decision-making process, however, for certain topics, literature reviews may return insufficient or provide low quality evidence.
In circumstances where there is lack of evidence, or where evidence is conflicting, consensus-based methods offer a valid approach for public health guidance production. Consensus-based methods can also be used more generally to assist in the process of drawing conclusions and developing recommendations. There are, however, recognised limitations associated with consensus-methods which include the potential for introducing bias.
This document provides a generic approach for assisting in developing public health recommendations based on consensus of expert opinion, within the 'SHPN Framework for Health Protection Guidance Development'. The protocol is intended to assist in the production of SHPN Evidence Based Guidelines (EBG) or SHPN Good Practice Guidance (GPG), as outlined in the 'SHPN Evidence Based Guideline Methodology' and the 'SHPN Good Practice Guidance Methodology' respectively – particularly if a formal approach to consensus is indicated. If an SHPN sponsored guidance document does make use of a consensus approach to developing recommendations, it is expected that this protocol will be used.