Practice Guidance

Different Types of Guidancepen_logo

Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition (PEN)

There are many areas a dietitian is expected to know about; from diabetes and intolerances to kidney disease and weight management. But, maintaining an accurate overview of the evidence-base in all general and specialised areas of dietetic practice can be a challenge. The PEN system keeps you up-to-date with the fast-paced world of dietetics!

The PEN system condenses and summarises the nutrition and dietetic evidence-base on more than 190 nutrition and dietetic-related topics, then gives you practical guidance to help apply to dietetic practice!

Visit our PEN pages for more information

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines are evidence-based statements that are developed to assist healthcare professionals when making decisions about how to optimise and provide appropriate nutritional care for patients and specific clinical conditions. The published literature on a given topic is reviewed, evaluated and appraised and used to inform the content and recommendations within the Clinical Guideline.

NB: 'Guidance Documents', for example the 'Safe Caseload, Safe Staffing' provides guidance (similar to Clinical Guidelines, but without a clinical focus).

Clinical Practice Toolkits

Clinical Practice Toolkits put the evidence-base into practice (‘how-to’) and includes practical advice, tools and resources to support dietetic practice. Clinical Practice Toolkits may be stand-alone or may be developed as an additional resource alongside a Policy Statement.

Policy Statements (also called Position Papers)

Policy Statements are documents that outline the opinions and views of an organisation (the BDA) on a particular nutrition-related topic and will explain, justify and suggest reasons for a particular course of action. A Policy Statement is developed after a comprehensive review and will generally contain a background, discussion and summary section to allow for deeper understanding of the topic. BDA Policy Statements are either a ‘reflection of the evidence-base’ or ‘an opinion’.

NB: A 'Clinical Statement' is similar to a 'Policy Statement' but with more of a clinical focus.

Literature Reviews

Literature Reviews encompass a search and evaluation of the evidence-base on a particular nutrition-related topic. A Literature Review provides a comprehensive overview on the main literature within a given topic or area of research.

Consensus Statements (also called Consensus Recommendations)

Consensus Statements involve a comprehensive analysis by a panel of experts (consensus panel) who address questions surrounding a particular scientific topic or issue. The aim of a Consensus Statement is to support healthcare professionals with decision-making using expert opinion when the amount and/or quality of the evidence is limited.  

Briefing Papers (also called a Research Briefing Paper or Research Briefing)

Briefing Papers contain a concise summary or statement of research findings or facts on a particular issue or situation, intended to inform another individual (who may or may not be an expert in the chosen area). Briefing papers are short and succinct (a maximum of 2 pages) and include a recommend a course of action, arguments for and against and a conclusion.


Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition (PEN)pen_logo

In January 2011, the BDA became an international partner in Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition (PEN) and this changed the way BDA guidance is developed. BDA guidance uses the principles of ‘Knowledge Translation’. Visit our PEN pages for more information

The three recognised categories of BDA guidance are Clinical Guidelines, Clinical Practice Toolkits and Policy Statements.

The BDA Specialist Groups are now strongly encouraged to develop documents using PEN processes and methodology to allow for a global reach to the international dietetic community. For example:

  • Contributing to PEN content by reviewing and updating existing content (PEN Reviewer) or by writing new PEN content (PEN Author) which can then be repurposed into a Clinical Guideline, Clinical Practice Toolkit or Policy Statement.
  • Contributing to PEN content by repurposing a new Clinical Guideline, Clinical Practice Toolkit or Policy Statement into the PEN format which can then be incorporated into one of the ‘Knowledge Pathways’. The author(s) would be acknowledged as authors in the PEN ‘Knowledge Pathway’. Alternatively, the new document may be added to a PEN 'Knowledge Pathway' under ‘Related Tools and Resources’.
  • To use PEN content as your evidence-base to support the development of a new Clinical Guideline, Clinical Practice Toolkit or Policy Statement which can then be repurposed into the PEN format.

NB: BDA endorsement can be applied to a range of documents. Please click here for further information.

Why is this?

PEN uses robust processes to develop its content using the expertise of the international partners in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. PEN content is regularly reviewed and updated as new evidence emerges.

In recognition of the methodology used to develop the content, PEN has been awarded the prestigious Health on the Net (HON) Code of Conduct certification.

Specialist Groups planning to develop a new Clinical Guideline, Clinical Practice Toolkit or Policy Statement are asked to contact the BDA Education and Professional Development Team to discuss further.