Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) Evidence to Decision (EtD) frameworks are well-known tools that enable guideline panels to structure the process of developing recommendations and making decisions in healthcare and public health. To date, they have not regularly been used for health policy-making. This article aims to illustrate the application of the GRADE EtD frameworks in the process of nutrition-related policy-making for a European country.
Based on methodological guidance by the GRADE Working Group and the findings of our recently published scoping review, we illustrate the process of moving from evidence to recommendations, by applying the EtD frameworks to a fictitious example. Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxation based on energy density was chosen as an example application.
A fictitious guideline panel was convened by a national nutrition association to develop a population-level recommendation on SSB taxation aiming to reduce the burden of overweight and obesity. Exemplary evidence was summarized for each EtD criterion and conclusions were drawn based on all judgements made in relation to each criterion. As a result of the high priority to reduce the burden of obesity and because of the moderate desirable effects on health outcomes, but considering scarce or varying research evidence for other EtD criteria, the panel made a conditional recommendation for SSB taxation. Decision-makers may opt for conducting a pilot study prior to implementing the policy on a national level.
GRADE EtD frameworks can be used by guideline panels to make the process of developing recommendations in the field of health policy more systematic, transparent and comprehensible.