Decision making about healthcare-related tests and diagnostic test strategies. Paper 3: a systematic review shows limitations in most tools designed to assess quality and develop recommendations
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OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to identify and describe critical appraisal tools designed for assessing the quality of evidence (QoE) and/or strength of recommendations (SoRs) related to health care-related tests and diagnostic strategies (HCTDSs). STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: We conducted a systematic review to identify tools applied in guidelines, methodological articles, and systematic reviews to assess HCTDS. RESULTS: We screened 5,534 titles and abstracts, 1,004 full-text articles, and abstracted data from 330 references. We identified 29 tools and 14 modifications of existing tools for assessing QoE and SoR. Twenty-three out of 29 tools acknowledge the importance of assessing the QoE and SoR separately, but in 8, the SoR is based solely on QoE. When making decisions about the use of tests, patient values and preferences and impact on resource utilization were considered in 6 and 8 tools, respectively. There is also confusion about the terminology that describes the various factors that influence the QoE and SoR. CONCLUSION: Although at least one approach includes all relevant criteria for assessing QoE and determining SoR, more detailed guidance about how to operationalize these assessments and make related judgments will be beneficial. There is a need for a better description of the framework for using evidence to make decisions and develop recommendations about HCTDS.
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