BACKGROUND: Severe behavioural problems (SBPs1) in childhood are highly prevalent, impair functioning, and predict negative outcomes later in life. Over the last decade, clinical practice guidelines for SBPs have been developed across Europe to facilitate the translation of scientific evidence into clinical practice. This study outlines the results of an investigation into academic experts' perspectives on the current prevalence, implementation, and utility of clinical guidelines for SBPs in children aged 6-12 across Europe.
METHODS: An online semi-structured questionnaire was completed by 28 psychiatry and psychology experts from 23 countries.
RESULTS: Experts indicated that approximately two thirds of the included European countries use at least an unofficial clinical document such as textbooks, while nearly half possess official guidelines for SBPs. Experts believed that, although useful for practice, guidelines' benefits would be maximised if they included more specific recommendations and were implemented more conscientiously. Similarly, experts suggested that unofficial clinical documents offer a wide range of treatment options to individualise treatment from. However, they stressed the need for more consistent, evidence-based clinical practices, by means of developing national and European clinical guidelines for SBPs.
CONCLUSIONS: This study offers a preliminary insight into the current successes and challenges perceived by experts around Europe associated with guidelines and documents for SBPs, acting as a stepping stone for future systematic, in-depth investigations of guidelines. Additionally, it establishes experts' consensus for the need to develop official guidelines better tailored to clinical practice, creating a momentum for a transition towards European clinical guidelines for this population.