The Process for Developing and Reviewing Series of National Guidelines (SoNGs)

The Communicable Diseases Network of Australia (CDNA) is developing a suite of protocols for use by Australian public health authorities to follow up cases of selected notifiable communicable diseases. These are called the Series of National Guidelines (SoNGs). Each SoNG should be as concise as possible, referenced (using "Vancouver style";) and follow the SoNGs template, with the following appendices: a simple, low reading age fact sheet (approximately 2 pages in length); a Public Health Unit (PHU) checklist (approximately 1 page in length); and, an example data collection form for use by PHU staff (approximately 1-2 pages).

Page last updated: 12 July 2013

Process for developing a SoNG

  1. CDNA members agree that a SoNG is required for a particular disease.
  2. CDNA nominates a small working group and chair to develop the SoNG. The working group generally includes:
    • A CDNA jurisdictional member;
    • A subject matter expert from within CDNA or nominated by CDNA;
    • A public health practitioner from a PHU;
    • A chair; and,
    • A technical writer
  1. The Chair advises the Case Definitions Working Group (CDWG) that a SoNG is being revised or developed so the case definition can be reviewed if required.
  2. Where jurisdictions already have public health guidelines for the disease, the working group identifies the most recently revised guideline as the basis for the first draft. The technical writer reviews other existing State and Territory guidelines and any relevant national case definitions to identify any discrepancies.
  3. The technical writer liaises with the National Surveillance Committee, to ensure the objectives of surveillance for the disease are reflected in the SoNG.
  4. The technical writer reviews the recent literature, similar guidelines produced by US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and the current US Public Health Association’s Control of Communicable Diseases Manual to identify any discrepancies.
  5. The technical writer discusses any issues and the drafting process with the Chair, and together they develop an initial draft of the SoNG using the SoNGs template.
  6. The Chair convenes the working group teleconference and circulates the initial draft to the group a few days before the meeting. Any necessary feedback is incorporated into the draft by the technical writer following this meeting. Advice from individual working group members is sought as required.
  7. Laboratory input and review of relevant section(s) of the draft SoNG is sought from the Public Health Laboratory Network (PHLN) through a PHLN out-of-session item. Feedback from PHLN members is collated by PHLN Secretariat and distributed to the technical writer.
  8. The technical writer sends a revised draft to working group members for final comment. Any necessary feedback is incorporated into the revised draft(s).
  9. When the working group is happy with a final draft, it is sent to CDNA for endorsement. If required, any comments from CDNA are incorporated into the draft and it is sent back to CDNA for endorsement.
  10. Upon endorsement by CDNA, any new SoNG is sent to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) for endorsement and any revised SoNG is sent to AHPPC for noting.
  11. Once AHPPC has endorsed or noted the SoNG, it is uploaded onto the CDNA website.
  12. When it has been uploaded it can be used by PHUs, or other relevant bodies.
  13. Any feedback regarding an implemented SoNG is sent to CDNA for discussion.

Process for reviewing a SoNG

  • Once a SoNG has been endorsed for use, the need for revision is monitored by the appropriate area within the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) and entered into the CDNA work plan to come up for review in 5 years (or earlier if policy changes/new evidence deem it necessary).
  • CDNA chair identifies someone to review the SoNG to determine if changes are required.
  • If updating is required, then a small group is formed to draft a new SoNG based on the process for developing a SoNG (see above).