Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

2016

Abstract

Purpose

Because of an increasing demand for quality comparative effectiveness research (CER), methods guidance documents have been published, such as those from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). Our objective was to identify CER methods guidance documents and compare them to produce a summary of important recommendations which could serve as a consensus of CER method recommendations.

Methods

We conducted a systematic literature review to identify CER methods guidance documents published through 2014. Identified documents were analyzed for methods guidance recommendations. Individual recommendations were categorized to determine the degree of overlap.

Results

We identified nine methods guidance documents, which contained a total of 312 recommendations, 97% of which were present in two or more documents. All nine documents recommended transparency and adaptation for relevant stakeholders in the interpretation and dissemination of results. Other frequently shared CER methods recommendations included: study design and operational definitions should be developed a priori and allow for replication (n = 8 documents); focus on areas with gaps in current clinical knowledge that are relevant to decision-makers (n = 7); validity of measures, instruments, and data should be assessed and discussed (n = 7); outcomes, including benefits and harms, should be clinically meaningful, and objectively measured (n = 7). Assessment for and strategies to minimize bias (n = 6 documents), confounding (n = 6), and heterogeneity (n = 4) were also commonly shared recommendations between documents.

Conclusions

We offer a field-consensus guide based on nine CER methods guidance documents that will aid researchers in designing CER studies and applying CER methods.

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