The Consensus Development Program (CDP) is an unbiased, independent, evidence-based assessment of complex medical issues and is conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The program has operated since 1977. Each conference is jointly sponsored and administered by one or more Institutes or Centers (ICs) of NIH and by the Office of Medical Applications of Research (OMAR) in the Office of the Director of NIH. Depending on the topic, other Federal agencies with biomedical components may join in sponsoring a CDP conference. In conjunction with each conference, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) provides a systematic review of literature on the conference topic through one of its Evidence-Based Practice Centers.
The purpose of a CDP conference is to evaluate the available scientific information on a biomedical issue and develop a statement that advances understanding of the issue under consideration and will be useful to health professionals and the public. The panel is an independent, broad-based, non-Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), nonadvocacy group with appropriate expertise. The panel listens to the scientific data presented by invited experts and comments from the general public. The panel weighs the information and then composes a statement that addresses a set of predetermined questions. This statement is an independent report of the panel and is not a policy statement of NIH or the Federal Government and is not an advisory body to NIH.
Conference statements and recommendations focus on medical safety and efficacy, although they may refer to related issues (e.g. economic, sociologic, legal and ethical) that help to provide a context for the issue. CDP conferences are particularly useful for providing guidance when a controversy exists over preventive, therapeutic, or diagnostic options, or when the issue is of public as well as professional interest.
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