The New Zealand Autism Spectrum Disorder Guideline was released in April 2008 by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health. It is intended to provide guidance on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in both children and adults in New Zealand. The Guideline includes information for people with autism, health professionals, anyone involved in education from early childhood to tertiary, community supporters, parents and grandparents, employers, policy advisers.
As part of their commitment to the implementation of the guideline, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education agreed to establish a ‘living guideline’ process. The Ministries agreed that the Ministry of Education would have responsibility for sponsoring the development of this process for the ASD Guideline.
What is a living guideline?
A living guideline is one that is regularly updated and refined to reflect new evidence and changing user needs. It is distinguished from other processes such as revising or updating by the fact that the updates are part of an agreed programme of ongoing work. Updates have been undertaken annually since 2009.
Updates within the living guideline process are required when the recommendations in the guideline are no longer valid in view of research evidence that has emerged since the ASD Guideline’s literature searches were conducted.
The objective of a living guideline is to be more responsive to the needs of the people for whom it has been written. It not only is alive in the sense that the words are kept up-to-date, it is alive because it has real meaning to those who use it.
Living Guideline Group process
The living guideline process was established in 2009 by the New Zealand Guideline Group. In April 2012, NZGG assigned the contract to INSIGHT Research Limited. INSIGHT Research are responsible for managing the living guideline process as well as conducting the systematic literature reviews that update research evidence on prioritised topics.
The Living Guideline Group (LGG) is a small group of sector experts who annually review evidence related to guideline topics and make new recommendations. Members provide expertise and experience appropriate to the ASD Guideline’s scope and to the living guideline process as well as an awareness of current research developments in the autism field. Ex-officio members of the LGG include representatives from the Ministries of Health and Education, and the Director of INSIGHT Research.
The LGG are responsible for prioritising which topic within the ASD Guideline requires updating. At a face-to-face meeting, the LGG follow a rigorous process of revising, removing or developing new recommendations relating to the updated topic. The recommendations are graded using the NZGG Grading System, also used for the ASD Guideline, based on the quality, quantity, consistency, applicability and clinical impact of the research reviewed. These recommendations should be read alongside the recommendations that are contained within the ASD Guideline.
Living Guideline Group supplementary papers
Since 2009, documents that supplement the New Zealand Autism Spectrum Disorder Guideline have been released annually. Each supplementary paper includes a synthesis of the evidence updated on the topic (based on systematic literature reviews undertaken by INSIGHT Research), as well as any revised and new recommendations developed and graded by the Living Guideline Group.
The full supplementary papers are available to download on the Ministry of Health website here: