Reporting guidelines can be used to encourage standardised and comprehensive reporting of health research. In light of the global commitment to health equity, we have previously developed and published a reporting guideline for equity-focused systematic reviews (PRISMA-E 2012). The objectives of this study were to explore the utility of the equity extension items included in PRISMA-E 2012 from a systematic review author perspective, including facilitators and barriers to its use. This will assist in designing dissemination and knowledge translation strategies. We conducted a survey of systematic review authors to expose them to the new items in PRISMA-E 2012, establish the extent to which they had historically addressed those items in their own reviews, and gather feedback on the usefulness of the new items. Data were analysed using Microsoft Excel 2008 and Stata (version 11.2 for Mac). Of 151 respondents completing the survey, 18.5% (95% CI: 12.7% to 25.7%) had not heard of the PRISMA statement before, although 83.4% (95% CI: 77.5% to 89.3%) indicated that they plan to use PRISMA-E 2012 in the future, depending on the focus of their review. Most (68.9%; 95% CI: 60.8% to 76.2%) thought that using PRISMA-E 2012 would lead them to conduct their reviews differently. Important facilitators to using PRISMA-E 2012 identified by respondents were journal endorsement and incorporation of the elements of the guideline into systematic review software. Barriers identified were lack of time, word limits and the availability of equity data in primary research. This study has been the first to ‘road-test’ the new PRISMA-E 2012 reporting guideline and the findings are encouraging. They confirm the acceptability and potential utility of the guideline to assist review authors in reporting on equity in their reviews. The uptake and impact of PRISMA-E 2012 over time on design, conduct and reporting of primary research and systematic reviews should continue to be examined.
At the Rio Summit in 2011 on Social Determinants of Health, the global community recognized a pressing need to take action on reducing health inequities. This requires an improved evidence base on the effects of national and international policies on health inequities. Although systematic reviews are recognized as an important source for evidence-informed policy, they have been criticized for failing to assess effects on health equity.
This article summarizes guidance on both conducting systematic reviews with a focus on health equity and on methods to translate their findings to different audiences. This guidance was developed based on a series of methodology meetings, previous guidance, a recently developed reporting guideline for equity-focused systematic reviews (PRISMA-Equity 2012) and a systematic review of methods to assess health equity in systematic reviews.
We make ten recommendations for conducting equity-focused systematic reviews; and five considerations for knowledge translation. Illustrative examples of equity-focused reviews are provided where these methods have been used.
Implementation of the recommendations in this article is one step toward monitoring the impact of national and international policies and programs on health equity, as recommended by the 2011 World Conference on Social Determinants of Health.
Health Equity; Evidence Synthesis; Knowledge Translation; Systematic Reviews
The objective of this review was to assess the uptake of WHO recommended integrated perinatal prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV interventions in low- and middle-income countries.
Methods and Findings
We searched 21 databases for observational studies presenting uptake of integrated PMTCT programs in low- and middle-income countries. Forty-one studies on programs implemented between 1997 and 2006, met inclusion criteria. The proportion of women attending antenatal care who were counseled and who were tested was high; 96% (range 30–100%) and 81% (range 26–100%), respectively. However, the overall median proportion of HIV positive women provided with antiretroviral prophylaxis in antenatal care and attending labor ward was 55% (range 22–99%) and 60% (range 19–100%), respectively. The proportion of women with unknown HIV status, tested for HIV at labor ward was 70%. Overall, 79% (range 44–100%) of infants were tested for HIV and 11% (range 3–18%) of them were HIV positive. We designed two PMTCT cascades using studies with outcomes for all perinatal PMTCT interventions which showed that an estimated 22% of all HIV positive women attending antenatal care and 11% of all HIV positive women delivering at labor ward were not notified about their HIV status and did not participate in PMTCT program. Only 17% of HIV positive antenatal care attendees and their infants are known to have taken antiretroviral prophylaxis.
The existing evidence provides information only about the initial PMTCT programs which were based on the old WHO PMTCT guidelines. The uptake of counseling and HIV testing among pregnant women attending antenatal care was high, but their retention in PMTCT programs was low. The majority of women in the included studies did not receive ARV prophylaxis in antenatal care; nor did they attend labor ward. More studies evaluating the uptake in current PMTCT programs are urgently needed.
Systematic reviews have been challenged to consider effects on disadvantaged groups. A priori specification of subgroup analyses is recommended to increase the credibility of these analyses. This study aimed to develop and assess inter-rater agreement for an algorithm for systematic review authors to predict whether differences in effect measures are likely for disadvantaged populations relative to advantaged populations (only relative effect measures were addressed).
A health equity plausibility algorithm was developed using clinimetric methods with three items based on literature review, key informant interviews and methodology studies. The three items dealt with the plausibility of differences in relative effects across sex or socioeconomic status (SES) due to: 1) patient characteristics; 2) intervention delivery (i.e., implementation); and 3) comparators. Thirty-five respondents (consisting of clinicians, methodologists and research users) assessed the likelihood of differences across sex and SES for ten systematic reviews with these questions. We assessed inter-rater reliability using Fleiss multi-rater kappa.
The proportion agreement was 66% for patient characteristics (95% confidence interval: 61%-71%), 67% for intervention delivery (95% confidence interval: 62% to 72%) and 55% for the comparator (95% confidence interval: 50% to 60%). Inter-rater kappa, assessed with Fleiss kappa, ranged from 0 to 0.199, representing very low agreement beyond chance.
Users of systematic reviews rated that important differences in relative effects across sex and socioeconomic status were plausible for a range of individual and population-level interventions. However, there was very low inter-rater agreement for these assessments. There is an unmet need for discussion of plausibility of differential effects in systematic reviews. Increased consideration of external validity and applicability to different populations and settings is warranted in systematic reviews to meet this need.
Systematic reviews; Applicability; Health equity; Sex and gender; Socioeconomic status
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disorder in the world, as it is appears to be prevalent among 80% of individuals over the age of 75. Although physical activities such as walking have been scientifically proven to improve physical function and arthritic symptoms, individuals with OA tend to adopt a sedentary lifestyle. There is therefore a need to improve knowledge translation in order to influence individuals to adopt effective self-management interventions, such as an adapted walking program.
A single-blind, randomized control trial was conducted. Subjects (n = 222) were randomized to one of three knowledge translation groups: 1) Walking and Behavioural intervention (WB) (18 males, 57 females) which included the supervised community-based aerobic walking program combined with a behavioural intervention and an educational pamphlet on the benefits of walking; 2) Walking intervention (W) (24 males, 57 females) wherein participants only received the supervised community-based aerobic walking program intervention and the educational pamphlet; 3) Self-directed control (C) (32 males, 52 females) wherein participants only received the educational pamphlet. One-way analyses of variance were used to test for differences in quality of life, adherence, confidence, and clinical outcomes among the study groups at each 3 month assessment during the 12-month intervention period and 6-month follow-up period.
The clinical and quality of life outcomes improved among participants in each of the three comparative groups. However, there were few statistically significant differences observed for quality of life and clinical outcomes at long-term measurements at 12-months end of intervention and at 6- months post intervention (18-month follow-up). Outcome results varied among the three groups.
The three groups were equivalent when determining the effectiveness of knowledge uptake and improvements in quality of life and other clinical outcomes. OA can be managed through the implementation of a proven effective walking program in existing community-based walking clubs.
Current Controlled Trials IRSCTNO9193542
Osteoarthritis; Clinical trial; Walking; Compliance; Adherence; Education; Behavioural intervention; Guidelines implementation; Knowledge translation
Vivian Welch and colleagues present consensus-based guidelines for reporting equity-focused systematic reviews, the PRISMA-Equity extension.
The implementation of evidence based clinical practice guidelines on self-management interventions to patients with chronic diseases is a complex process. A multifaceted strategy may offer an effective knowledge translation (KT) intervention to promote knowledge uptake and improve adherence in an effective walking program based on the Ottawa Panel Evidence Based Clinical Practice Guidelines among individuals with moderate osteoarthritis (OA).
A single-blind, randomized control trial was conducted. Patients with mild to moderate (OA) of the knee (n=222) were randomized to one of three KT groups: 1) Walking and Behavioural intervention (WB) (18 males, 57 females) which included the supervised community-based aerobic walking program combined with a behavioural intervention and an educational pamphlet on the benefits of walking for OA; 2) Walking intervention (W) (24 males, 57 females) wherein participants only received the supervised community-based aerobic walking program intervention and the educational pamphlet; 3) Self-directed control (C) (32 males, 52 females) wherein participants only received the educational pamphlet. One-way analyses of variance were used to test for differences in quality of life, adherence, confidence, and clinical outcomes among the study groups at each 3 month assessment during the 12-month intervention period and 6-month follow-up period.
Short-term program adherence was greater in WB compared to C (p<0.012) after 3 months. No statistical significance (p> 0.05) was observed for long-term adherence (6 to 12 months), and total adherence between the three groups. The three knowledge translation strategies demonstrated equivalent long-term results for the implementation of a walking program for older individuals with moderate OA. Lower dropout rates as well as higher retention rates were observed for WB at 12 and 18 months.
The additional knowledge translation behavioural component facilitated the implementation of clinical practice guidelines on walking over a short-term period. More studies are needed to improve the long-term walking adherence or longer guidelines uptake on walking among participants with OA. Particular attention should be taken into account related to patient’s characteristic and preference. OA can be managed through the implementation of a walking program based on clinical practice guidelines in existing community-based walking clubs as well as at home with the minimal support of an exercise therapist or a trained volunteer.
Current Controlled Trials IRSCTNO9193542
Osteoarthritis; Clinical trial; Walking; Adherence; Education; Behavioural intervention; Guidelines implementation; Knowledge translation
Setting priorities is critical to ensure guidelines are relevant and acceptable to users, and that time, resources and expertise are used cost-effectively in their development. Stakeholder engagement and the use of an explicit procedure for developing recommendations are critical components in this process.
We used a modified Delphi consensus process to select 20 high-priority conditions for guideline development. Canadian primary care practitioners who care for immigrants and refugees used criteria that emphasize inequities in health to identify clinical care gaps.
Nine infectious diseases were selected, as well as four mental health conditions, three maternal and child health issues, caries and periodontal disease, iron-deficiency anemia, diabetes and vision screening.
Immigrant and refugee medicine covers the full spectrum of primary care, and although infectious disease continues to be an important area of concern, we are now seeing mental health and chronic diseases as key considerations for recently arriving immigrants and refugees.
This article describes the evidence review and guideline development method developed for the Clinical Preventive Guidelines for Immigrants and Refugees in Canada by the Canadian Collaboration for Immigrant and Refugee Health Guideline Committee.
The Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE) best-practice framework was combined with the recently developed Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach to produce evidence-based clinical guidelines for immigrants and refugees in Canada.
A systematic approach was designed to produce the evidence reviews and apply the GRADE approach, including building on evidence from previous systematic reviews, searching for and comparing evidence between general and specific immigrant populations, and applying the GRADE criteria for making recommendations. This method was used for priority health conditions that had been selected by practitioners caring for immigrants and refugees in Canada.
This article outlines the 14-step method that was defined to standardize the guideline development process for each priority health condition.
The selection of appropriate outcomes or domains is crucial when designing clinical trials in order to compare directly the effects of different interventions in ways that minimize bias. If the findings are to influence policy and practice then the chosen outcomes need to be relevant and important to key stakeholders including patients and the public, health care professionals and others making decisions about health care. There is a growing recognition that insufficient attention has been paid to the outcomes measured in clinical trials. These issues could be addressed through the development and use of an agreed standardized collection of outcomes, known as a core outcome set, which should be measured and reported, as a minimum, in all trials for a specific clinical area. Accumulating work in this area has identified the need for general guidance on the development of core outcome sets. Key issues to consider in the development of a core outcome set include its scope, the stakeholder groups to involve, choice of consensus method and the achievement of a consensus.
Core outcome set; Outcome reporting bias; Clinical trials; Systematic review; Methodology; Consensus
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is commonly used by children, but estimates of that use vary widely partly due to the range of questionnaires used to assess CAM use. However, no studies have attempted to appraise measurement properties of these questionnaires. The aim of this systematic review was to critically appraise and summarize measurement properties of questionnaires of CAM use in pediatrics.
A search strategy was implemented in major electronic databases in March 2011 and conference websites, scientific journals and experts were consulted. Studies were included if they mentioned a questionnaire assessing the prevalence of CAM use in pediatrics. Members of the team independently rated the methodological quality of the studies (using the COSMIN checklist) and measurement properties of the questionnaires (using the Terwee and Cohen criteria).
A total of 96 CAM questionnaires were found in 104 publications. The COSMIN checklist showed that no studies reported adequate methodological quality. The Terwee criteria showed that all included CAM questionnaires had indeterminate measurement properties. According to the Cohen score, none were considered to be a well-established assessment, two approached the level of a well-established assessment, seven were promising assessments and the remainder (n = 87) did not reach the score’s minimum standards.
None of the identified CAM questionnaires have been thoroughly validated. This systematic review highlights the need for proper validation of CAM questionnaires in pediatrics, which may in turn lead to improved research and knowledge translation about CAM in clinical practice.
We performed a systematic review to assess the effect of integrated perinatal prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV interventions compared to non- or partially integrated services on the uptake in low- and middle-income countries.
We searched for experimental, quasi-experimental and controlled observational studies in any language from 21 databases and grey literature sources.
Out of 28 654 citations retrieved, five studies met our inclusion criteria. A cluster randomized controlled trial reported higher probability of nevirapine uptake at the labor wards implementing HIV testing and structured nevirapine adherence assessment (RRR 1.37, bootstrapped 95% CI, 1.04–1.77). A stepped wedge design study showed marked improvement in antiretroviral therapy (ART) enrolment (44.4% versus 25.3%, p<0.001) and initiation (32.9% versus 14.4%, p<0.001) in integrated care, but the median gestational age of ART initiation (27.1 versus 27.7 weeks, p = 0.4), ART duration (10.8 versus 10.0 weeks, p = 0.3) or 90 days ART retention (87.8% versus 91.3%, p = 0.3) did not differ significantly. A cohort study reported no significant difference either in the ART coverage (55% versus 48% versus 47%, p = 0.29) or eight weeks of ART duration before the delivery (50% versus 42% versus 52%; p = 0.96) between integrated, proximal and distal partially integrated care. Two before and after studies assessed the impact of integration on HIV testing uptake in antenatal care. The first study reported that significantly more women received information on PMTCT (92% versus 77%, p<0.001), were tested (76% versus 62%, p<0.001) and learned their HIV status (66% versus 55%, p<0.001) after integration. The second study also reported significant increase in HIV testing uptake after integration (98.8% versus 52.6%, p<0.001).
Limited, non-generalizable evidence supports the effectiveness of integrated PMTCT programs. More research measuring coverage and other relevant outcomes is urgently needed to inform the design of services delivering PMTCT programs.
The Effective Consumer Scale (EC-17) measures the skills of musculoskeletal patients in managing their own healthcare. The objectives of this study were to translate the EC-17 into Dutch and to further evaluate its psychometric properties.
The EC-17 was translated and cognitively pretested following cross-cultural adaptation guidelines. Two hundred and thirty-eight outpatients (52 % response rate) with osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia completed the EC-17 along with other validated measures. Three weeks later, 101 patients completed the EC-17 again.
Confirmatory factor analysis supported the unidimensional structure of the scale. The items adequately fit the Rasch model and only one item demonstrated differential item functioning. Person reliability was high (0.92), but item difficulty levels tended to cluster around the middle of the scale, and measurement precision was highest for moderate and lower levels of skills. The scale demonstrated adequate test–retest reliability (ICC = 0.71), and correlations with other measures were largely as expected.
The results supported the validity and reliability of the Dutch version of the EC-17, but suggest that the scale is best targeted at patients with relatively low levels of skills. Future studies should further examine its sensitivity to change in a clinical trial specifically aimed at improving effective consumer skills.
Arthritis; Consumer participation; Psychometrics; Rasch analysis
In the third paper in a three-part series on health systems guidance, Simon Lewin and colleagues explore the challenge of assessing how much confidence to place in evidence on health systems interventions.
Tackling health inequities both within and between countries remains high on the agenda of international organizations including the World Health Organization and local, regional and national governments. Systematic reviews can be a useful tool to assess effects on equity in health status because they include studies conducted in a variety of settings and populations. This study aims to describe the extent to which the impacts of health interventions on equity in health status are considered in systematic reviews, describe methods used, and assess the implications of their equity related findings for policy, practice and research.
We conducted a methodology study of equity assessment in systematic reviews. Two independent reviewers extracted information on the reporting and analysis of impacts of health interventions on equity in health status in a group of 300 systematic reviews collected from all systematic reviews indexed in one month of MEDLINE, using a pre-tested data collection form. Any differences in data extraction were resolved by discussion.
Of the 300 systematic reviews, 224 assessed the effectiveness of interventions on health outcomes. Of these 224 reviews, 29 systematic reviews assessed effects on equity in health status using subgroup analysis or targeted analyses of vulnerable populations. Of these, seven conducted subgroup analyses related to health equity which were reported in insufficient detail to judge their credibility. Of these 29 reviews, 18 described implications for policy and practice based on assessment of effects on health equity.
The quality and completeness of reporting should be enhanced as a priority, because without this policymakers and practitioners will continue lack the evidence base they need to inform decision-making about health inequity. Furthermore, there is a need to develop methods to systematically consider impacts on equity in health status that is currently lacking in systematic reviews.
In the first paper in a three-part series on health systems guidance, Xavier Bosch-Capblanch and colleagues examine how guidance is currently formulated in low- and middle-income countries, and the challenges to developing such guidance.
With remission in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) an increasingly attainable goal, there is no widely used definition of remission that is stringent but achievable and could be applied uniformly as an outcome in clinical trials.
A committee consisting of members of the American College of Rheumatology, the European League Against Rheumatism and the Outcome Measures in Rheumatology Initiative (OMERACT) met to guide the process and review prespecified analyses from clinical trials of patients with RA. The committee requested a stringent definition (little, if any, active disease) and decided to use core set measures to define remission including at least joint counts and an acute phase reactant. Members were surveyed to select the level of each core set measure consistent with remission. Candidate definitions of remission were tested including those that constituted a number of individual measures in remission (Boolean approach) as well as definitions using disease activity indexes. To select a definition of remission, trial data were analyzed to examine the added contribution of patient reported outcomes and the ability of candidate measures to predict later good x-ray and functional outcomes.
Survey results for the definition of remission pointed to indexes at published thresholds and to a count of core set measures with each measure scored as 1 or less (e.g. tender and swollen joint counts, CRP and global assessments on 0-10 scale). Analyses suggested the need to include a patient reported measure. Examination of 2 year follow-up data suggested that many candidate definitions performed comparably in terms of predicting later good x-ray and functional outcomes, although DAS28 based measures of remission did not predict good radiographic outcomes as well as did the other candidate definitions. Given these and other considerations, we propose that a patient be defined as in remission based on one of two definitions : 1: When their scores on the following measures are all <1: tender joint count, swollen joint count, CRP (in mg/dL) and patient global assessment (0-10 scale), OR 2: when their score on the SDAI is < 3.3.
We propose two new definitions of remission both of which can be uniformly applied and widely used in RA clinical trials. We recommend that one of these be selected in each trial as an outcome and that the results on both be reported in each trial.
To assess whether the model of service delivery affects the equity of the care provided across age groups.
One hundred thirty-seven practices, including traditional fee-for-service practices, salaried community health centres (CHCs), and capitation-based family health networks and health service organizations.
Main outcome measures
To compare the quality of care across age groups using multilevel linear or logistic regressions. Health service delivery measures and health promotion were assessed through patient surveys (N = 5111), which were based on the Primary Care Assessment Tool, and prevention and chronic disease management were assessed, based on Canadian recommendations for care, through chart abstraction (N = 4 108).
Older individuals reported better health service delivery in all models. This age effect ranged from 1.9% to 5.7%, and was larger in the 2 capitation-based models. Individuals aged younger than 30 years attending CHCs had more features of disadvantage (ie, living below the poverty line and without high school education) and were more likely than older individuals to report discussing at least 1 health promotion subject at the index visit. These differences were deemed an appropriate response to greater needs in these younger individuals. The prevention score showed an age-sex interaction in all models, with adherence to recommended care dropping with age for women. These results are largely attributable to the fact that maneuvers recommended for younger women are considerably more likely to be performed than other maneuvers. Chronic disease management scores showed an inverted U relationship with age in fee-for-service practices, family health networks, and health service organizations but not in CHCs.
The salaried model might have an organizational structure that is more conducive to providing appropriate care across age groups. The thrust toward adopting capitation-based payment is unlikely to have an effect on age disparities.
Serbia has proclaimed access to healthcare as a human right. In a context wherein the Roma population are disadvantaged, the aim of this study was to assess whether the Roma population are able to effectively access primary care services, and if not, what barriers prevent them from doing so. The history of the Roma in Serbia is described in detail so as to provide a context for their current vulnerable position.
Disaggregated data were analyzed from three population groups in Serbia; the general population, the Roma population, and the poorest quintile of the general population not including the Roma. The effective coverage framework, which incorporates availability, affordability, accessibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of health services, was used to structure the secondary data analysis. Acute respiratory infection (ARI) in children less than five years of age was used as an example as this is the leading cause of death in children under 5 years old in Serbia.
Roma children were significantly more likely to experience an ARI than either the general population or the poorest quintile of the general population, not including the Roma. All three population groups were equally likely to not receive the correct treatment regime of antibiotics. An analysis of the factors that affect quality of access to health services reveal that personal documentation is a statistically significant problem; availability of health services is not an issue that disproportionately affects the Roma; however the geographical accessibility and affordability are substantive issues that disproportionately affect the Roma population. Affordability of services affected the Roma and the poorest quintile and affordability of medications significantly affected all three population groups. With regards to acceptability, mothers from all three population groups are equally likely to recognize the importance of seeking treatment.
The Roma should be assisted in applying for personal documentation, the geographical accessibility of clinics needs to be addressed, and the costs of healthcare visits and medications should be reviewed. Areas for improvement specific to ARI are the costs of antibiotics and the diagnostic accuracy of providers. A range of policy recommendations are outlined.
A high quality decision requires that patients who meet clinical criteria for surgery are informed about the options (including non-surgical alternatives) and receive treatments that match their goals. The aim of this study was to evaluate the psychometric properties and clinical sensibility of a patient self report instrument, to measure the quality of decisions about total joint replacement for knee or hip osteoarthritis.
The performance of the Hip/Knee Osteoarthritis Decision Quality Instrument (HK-DQI) was evaluated in two samples: (1) a cross-sectional mail survey with 489 patients and 77 providers (study 1); and (2) a randomized controlled trial of a patient decision aid with 138 osteoarthritis patients considering total joint replacement (study 2). The HK-DQI results in two scores. Knowledge items are summed to create a total knowledge score, and a set of goals and concerns are used in a logistic regression model to develop a concordance score. The concordance score measures the proportion of patients whose treatment matched their goals. Hypotheses related to acceptability, feasibility, reliability and validity of the knowledge and concordance scores were examined.
In study 1, the HK-DQI was completed by 382 patients (79%) and 45 providers (58%), and in study 2 by 127 patients (92%), with low rates of missing data. The DQI-knowledge score was reproducible (ICC = 0.81) and demonstrated discriminant validity (68% decision aid vs. 54% control, and 78% providers vs. 61% patients) and content validity. The concordance score demonstrated predictive validity, as patients whose treatments were concordant with their goals had more confidence and less regret with their decision compared to those who did not.
The HK-DQI is feasible and acceptable to patients. It can be used to assess whether patients with osteoarthritis are making informed decisions about surgery that are concordant with their goals.
shared decision making; patient centered care; quality measurement; osteoarthritis; total joint replacement; decision quality
The burden of chronic pain for those who have it and their families is substantial, says Henry McQuay (doi: 10.1136/bmj.39520.699190.94), and these patients deserve better. Dawn Stacey and colleagues describe an example of quality improvement in practice for one group of people with chronic pain, those with osteoarthritis
The Internet has the potential to be an effective medium for delivering health care knowledge to consumers. While computer usability research makes recommendations about how to present Web-based information generally, there remains no clear guidance on how to present specific forms of health care research evidence online in a way that facilitates understanding and good health care decision making.
The two goals of this study were to describe the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group’s (CMSG’s) process for developing online patient-focused summaries of systematic reviews and to evaluate the impressions of these summaries formed by users.
A process for summarizing the results of systematic reviews via consumer summaries has evolved over 15 years. An evaluation of this approach took the form of Internet surveys on the Arthritis Society of Canada website and surveys of members of the Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance (CAPA). Respondents provided information on background, relationship to the decision, their satisfaction with and preparation for decision making, and suggestions for improvements to the summaries. Survey data were collected between August 1, 2005, and February 28, 2006.
A total of 261 respondents completed the survey. The majority (226/261 or 87%) of respondents reported having an arthritis-related condition. The consumer summary approach was generally reviewed favorably by respondents, with most agreeing that the summary provided appropriate information (177/261 or 68%), would be useful to others (160/261 or 61%), was well laid out (159/261 or 61%), was easy to learn from (157/261 or 60%), and was useful to the reader (153/261 or 59%). Areas of potential improvement were indicated by relatively fewer respondents agreeing that they could easily find all the information they wanted (118/261 or 45%), by a substantial proportion being unable to judge whether the providers of the information are reliable (80/261 or 31%), and by a similar proportion being unable to determine whether the information presented was the best available (68/261 or 26%).
The CMSG has developed an approach to summarizing the results of often-technical systematic reviews into public-friendly consumer summaries. Our online survey showed that this approach was generally well liked but identified specific areas for improvement. Feedback from this survey will help to reshape and improve the current template for consumer summaries used by the CMSG.
Decision support techniques; health care surveys; Internet; patient education; patient satisfaction; patient-centered care; musculoskeletal diseases
Editors from a number of medical journals lay out principles for journals considering publication of Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER). In order to encourage dissemination of this editorial, this article is freely available in PLoS Medicine and will be also published in Medical Decision Making, Croatian Medical Journal, The Cochrane Library, Trials, The American Journal of Managed Care, and Journal of Clinical Epidemiology.