The traffic light pilot study: assessing the level of evidence for interventions in obstetrics and gynaecology

Krystle Y Chong* (Corresponding Author), Rebecca J McDonald, Ming Fan, Ben W Mol

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evidence-based medicine tries to support clinicians through research, integrated with clinical skill and patient values. This pilot study aimed to assess appropriateness and level of evidence of current clinical practices, through evaluating availability and quality of guidelines.A prospective observational study in a large tertiary hospital network was performed, sampling diagnostic and therapeutic interventions in obstetrics and gynaecology. Interventions performed were justified against knowledge in the published literature, and guideline recommended practice. We collected 58 patient observations, 40(69%) in obstetrics, 18(31%) in gynaecology. There were local guidelines relevant in 52%, national in 22%, and international guidelines in 12%. In 50 interventions with available guidelines, 54% provided strong and clear recommendations for practice, and were supported by research-based knowledge. Similarly, 66% of encounters were thought to be in concordance with research-based knowledge.There was good concordance between interventions and guideline recommendations. However, half of guidelines reviewed had limited or no knowledge to justify their recommendations.IMPACT STATEMENTWhat is already known on this subject? Evidence based medicine should aim to improve patient outcomes. However, available trials assessing effectiveness of established practices suggest that they convey little to no benefit to patients. There remains a paucity of evidence for established practices in obstetrics and gynaecologyWhat do the results of this study add? This pilot study assesses the usefulness of interventions in obstetrics and gynaecology and confirms the feasibility of collecting and coding our interventions and clinical practices with a traffic light system.What are the implications of these findings for clinical practice and/or further research? These findings demonstrate the feasibility of our traffic lights grading system within obstetrics and gynaecology. It demonstrates this method is useful to assess what knowledge base is guiding clinical practice, how well practice concords with guidelines and literature, as well as the presence and significance of any gaps in knowledge. These early findings will be used in an expanded study and have implications on the way healthcare effectiveness is evaluated, as well as reducing healthcare expenditure in obstetrics and gynaecology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1076-1079
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number7
Early online date18 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

BWM is supported by a NHMRC Practitioner Fellowship (GNT1082548). BWM reports consultancy for ObsEva, Merck and Guerbet. KYC, RJM, MF declare no competing interests.


  • Evidence-based medicine
  • clinical decision-making
  • patient-centered care
  • practice guidelines as topic
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology Departament
  • Hospital
  • Gynaecology/standards
  • Obstetrics/standards


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