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Appraising evidence-based mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) guidelines—PART I: a systematic review on methodological quality using AGREE-HS.

Brake, H. te, Willems, A., Steen, C., Dückers, M. Appraising evidence-based mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) guidelines—PART I: a systematic review on methodological quality using AGREE-HS. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: 2022, 19(5), Art. nr. 3107

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Background
In 2007, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) published its guidelines for mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in emergency situations. This was one of the first sets of MHPSS guidelines, developed during the last decades, to aid policymakers and practitioners in the planning and implementation of disaster mental health risk reduction activities. However, the potential merit of MHPSS guidelines for this purpose is poorly understood.

Objective
The objective of this study is to review available MHPSS guidelines in disaster settings and assess their methodological quality.

Method
MHPSS guidelines, frameworks, manuals and toolkits were selected via a systematic literature review as well as a search in the grey literature. A total of 13 MHPSS guidelines were assessed independently by 3–5 raters using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation–Health Systems (AGREE-HS) instrument.

Findings
Guideline quality scores varied substantially, ranging between 21.3 and 67.6 (range 0–100, M = 45.4), with four guidelines scoring above midpoint (50). Overall, guidelines scored highest (on a 1–7 scale) on topic (M = 5.3) and recommendations (M = 4.2), while implementability (M = 2.7) is arguably the area where most of the progress is to be made. Ideally, knowledge derived from scientific research aligns with the receptive contexts of policy and practice where risks are identified and mitigated.