Key Clinical Questions (KCQ) Guidelines


Readers want to know timely, concise answers to common questions they frequently encounter in hospital medicine. Additionally, they want the take-home message without all the extraneous details. The goal of these articles is to outline the topic in a case-based fashion, bring in the imperative data and generate an “expert” opinion. Most often the answer will be drawn from a clinical guideline or expert opinion from a Society (e.g., ACC/AHA) but sometimes these data will be lacking, and you will be required to put your nickel down and provide the answer. At all times you should try to make the answer as evidence-based as the data allows.

Think of these “Keys” as the bare minimum anyone should know, namely the answer surrounded by the relevant data that lead you to this conclusion. You will also provide them with “additional reading” should they want to learn more about the topic in general. Additionally, include two or three tables or graphs that help illustrate your point and a summary box of the key points of the article.

KCQ Article Format

  1. Title (Should be the clinical question you are addressing, <25 words)
  2. Case (limit to <65 words)
  3. Brief overview of the issue (should include relevant pathophysiology, diagnostics, etc. depending on the question, < 250 words)
  4. Overview of the data (<1000 words)
  5. Application of the data to your original case (<200 words)
  6. Bottom line (one sentence, answer your original question, <25 words)
  7. Reference (should include the references you cite in the text, generally ~5, and be in the AMA format (see general guidelines for reference)
  8. Graphics (should include graphs, tables, or images that help illustrate key concepts; please note you need to obtain permission for copyrighted material)
  9. Keys summary box (include 3-4 bullets of the main points of your review)
  10. Additional reading (include 3-4 good print or online resources for finding out more about this topic. These should be broader and not primary data. For example, if the question is about treatment for CHF, then the additional reading should be a nice review of the topic. You can also include guidelines or expert opinion papers here, even if they are cited in the reference section.)
  11. A Quiz: Title, Intro (few sentences), Question, four multiple choice answers, and a short explanation of the correct answer

Please include completed Copyright Transfer Agreements, Disclosure, bios, and headshots for each author. Identify each author with name, medical credential, job title, and workplace information (including city and state). Make sure that topic hasn’t been covered recently. Full issues of The Hospitalist are available here for review.