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AHRQ Releases Evidence Review on Routine Screening for Gestational Diabetes

May 30, 2008

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has released a recommendation on routine screening for gestational diabetes in women who have not previously had the condition, concluding that, “the evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against routine screening for gestational diabetes.” This type of “use your judgment” conclusion isn’t as informative for directing action as some might like, but it may point to areas where further research is needed.

The Agency (through its U.S. Preventive Services Task Force arm) further explains:

The current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance between the benefits and harms of screening women for GDM [gestational diabetes mellitus] either before or after 24 weeks gestation. Harms of screening include short-term anxiety in some women with positive screening results, and inconvenience to many women and medical practices because most positive screening tests are likely false-positives. Until there is better evidence, clinicians should discuss screening for GDM with their patients and make case-by-case decisions. The discussion should include information about the uncertain benefits and harms as well as the frequency and uncertain meaning of a positive screening test result.

The full summary with supporting documents and explanation of the review’s limitations are freely available online.

Related libraryland coolness: My institution has been selected as one of AHRQ’s Evidence-based Practice Centers, which “review all relevant scientific literature on clinical, behavioral, and organization and financing topics to produce evidence reports and technology assessments. These reports are used for informing and developing coverage decisions, quality measures, educational materials and tools, guidelines, and research agendas.” Our EPC has another librarian (of course it’s the fabulous Becky) and myself involved, constructing search strategies, grading abstracts for inclusion/exclusion, and the like. We’re still on the first topic (still looking at those abstracts), but I expect the entire process will be somewhat interesting, and it’s nice to work with people who recognize the expertise medical librarians can bring to the table for projects such as this.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 30, 2008 11:28 am

    ooo, “fabulous”, what a cool nickname 🙂 thanks!

  2. May 30, 2008 2:47 pm

    The recommendation by the Agency of Health Care Research to “use your own judgement” is little scary but at least we know we need further research regarding the subject matter. Hopefully we’ll have a more definitive conclusion before too long.

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