[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Those planning, managing and working in health systems worldwide routinely need to make decisions regarding strategies to improve health care and promote equity. Systematic reviews of different kinds can be of great help to these decision-makers, providing actionable evidence at every step in the decision-making process. Although there is growing recognition of the importance of systematic reviews to inform both policy decisions and produce guidance for health systems, a number of important methodological and evidence uptake challenges remain and better coordination of existing initiatives is needed. The Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, housed within the World Health Organization, convened an Advisory Group on Health Systems Research (HSR) Synthesis to bring together different stakeholders interested in HSR synthesis and its use in decision-making processes. We describe the rationale of the Advisory Group and the six areas of its work and reflects on its role in advancing the field of HSR synthesis. We argue in favour of greater cross-institutional collaborations, as well as capacity strengthening in low- and middle-income countries, to advance the science and practice of health systems research synthesis. We advocate for the integration of quasi-experimental study designs in reviews of effectiveness of health systems intervention and reforms. The Advisory Group also recommends adopting priority-setting approaches for HSR synthesis and increasing the use of findings from systematic reviews in health policy and decision-making.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chronic kidney disease is a significant contributor to mortality and morbidity worldwide, and the number of people who require dialysis or transplantation continues to increase. People on dialysis are 15 times more likely to die than the general population. Dialysis is also costly, intrusive, and time-consuming and imposes an enormous burden on patients and their families. This escalating problem has spurred a proliferation of trials in dialysis, yet health and quality of life remain poor. The reasons for this are complex and varied but are attributable in part to problems in the design and reporting of studies, particularly outcome selection. Problems related to outcomes include use of unvalidated surrogates, outcomes of little or no relevance to patients, highly variable outcome selection limiting comparability across studies, and bias in reporting outcomes. The aim of the Standardised Outcomes in Nephrology-Haemodialysis (SONG-HD) study is to establish a core outcome set for haemodialysis trials, to improve the quality of reporting, and the relevance of trials conducted in people on haemodialysis.
SONG-HD is a five-phase project that includes the following: a systematic review to identify outcomes that have been reported in haemodialysis systematic reviews and trials; nominal group technique with patients and caregivers to identify, rank, and describe reasons for their choices; qualitative stakeholder interviews with patients, caregivers, clinicians, researchers, and policy makers to elicit individual values and perspectives on outcomes for haemodialysis trials; a three-round Delphi survey with stakeholder groups to distil and generate a prioritised list of core outcomes; and a consensus workshop to establish a core outcome set for haemodialysis trials.
Establishing a core outcome set to be consistently measured and reported in haemodialysis trials will improve the integrity, transparency, usability, and contribution of research relevant to patients requiring haemodialysis; ensure that outcomes of relevance to all stakeholders are consistently reported across trials; and mitigate against outcome reporting bias. Ultimately, patients will be more protected from potential harm, patients and clinicians will be better able to make informed decisions about treatment, and researchers and policy makers will be more able to maximise the value of research to the public.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Assessing the availability of health services during humanitarian emergencies is essential for understanding the capacities and weaknesses of disrupted health systems. To improve the consistency of health facilities assessments, the World Health Organization has proposed the use of the Health Resources Availability Mapping System (HeRAMS) developed in Darfur, Sudan as a standardized assessment tool for use in future acute and protracted crises. This study provides an evaluation of HeRAMS' comprehensiveness, and investigates the methods, quality and comprehensiveness of health facilities data and tools in Haiti, where HeRAMS was not used.
Tools and databases containing health facilities data in Haiti were collected using a snowball sampling technique, while HeRAMS was purposefully evaluated in Sudan. All collected tools were assessed for quality and comprehensiveness using a coding scheme based on the World Health Organization's health systems building blocks, the Global Health Cluster Suggested Set of Core Indicators and Benchmarks by Category, and the Sphere Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response. Eight assessments and databases were located in Haiti, and covered a median of 3.5 of the 6 health system building blocks, 4.5 of the 14 Sphere standards, and 2 of the 9 Health Cluster indicators. None of the assessments covered all of the indicators in any of the assessment criteria and many lacked basic data, limiting the detail of analysis possible for calculating standardized benchmarks and indicators. In Sudan, HeRAMS collected data on 5 of the 6 health system building blocks, 13 of the 14 Sphere Standards, and collected data to allow the calculation of 7 of the 9 Health Cluster Core Indicators and Benchmarks.
There is a need to agree upon essential health facilities data in disrupted health systems during humanitarian emergencies. Although the quality of the assessments in Haiti was generally poor, the large number of platforms and assessment tools deployed suggests that health facilities data can be collected even during acute emergencies. Further consensus is needed to establish essential criteria for data collection and to establish a core group of health systems assessment experts to be deployed during future emergencies.
Conflict and Health 06/2015; 9:20. DOI:10.1186/s13031-015-0045-6
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Dental caries is a major public health problem in most industrialised countries, affecting 60% to 90% of school children. Community water fluoridation was initiated in the USA in 1945 and is currently practised in about 25 countries around the world; health authorities consider it to be a key strategy for preventing dental caries. Given the continued interest in this topic from health professionals, policy makers and the public, it is important to update and maintain a systematic review that reflects contemporary evidence.
To evaluate the effects of water fluoridation (artificial or natural) on the prevention of dental caries.
To evaluate the effects of water fluoridation (artificial or natural) on dental fluorosis.
We searched the following electronic databases: The Cochrane Oral Health Group's Trials Register (to 19 February 2015); The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; Issue 1, 2015); MEDLINE via OVID (1946 to 19 February 2015); EMBASE via OVID (1980 to 19 February 2015); Proquest (to 19 February 2015); Web of Science Conference Proceedings (1990 to 19 February 2015); ZETOC Conference Proceedings (1993 to 19 February 2015). We searched the US National Institutes of Health Trials Registry (ClinicalTrials.gov) and the World Health Organization's WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform for ongoing trials. There were no restrictions on language of publication or publication status in the searches of the electronic databases.
For caries data, we included only prospective studies with a concurrent control that compared at least two populations - one receiving fluoridated water and the other non-fluoridated water - with outcome(s) evaluated at at least two points in time. For the assessment of fluorosis, we included any type of study design, with concurrent control, that compared populations exposed to different water fluoride concentrations. We included populations of all ages that received fluoridated water (naturally or artificially fluoridated) or non-fluoridated water.
Data collection and analysis
We used an adaptation of the Cochrane 'Risk of bias' tool to assess risk of bias in the included studies.
We included the following caries indices in the analyses: decayed, missing and filled teeth (dmft (deciduous dentition) and DMFT (permanent dentition)), and proportion caries free in both dentitions. For dmft and DMFT analyses we calculated the difference in mean change scores between the fluoridated and control groups. For the proportion caries free we calculated the difference in the proportion caries free between the fluoridated and control groups.
For fluorosis data we calculated the log odds and presented them as probabilities for interpretation.
A total of 155 studies met the inclusion criteria; 107 studies provided sufficient data for quantitative synthesis.
The results from the caries severity data indicate that the initiation of water fluoridation results in reductions in dmft of 1.81 (95% CI 1.31 to 2.31; 9 studies at high risk of bias, 44,268 participants) and in DMFT of 1.16 (95% CI 0.72 to 1.61; 10 studies at high risk of bias, 78,764 participants). This translates to a 35% reduction in dmft and a 26% reduction in DMFT compared to the median control group mean values. There were also increases in the percentage of caries free children of 15% (95% CI 11% to 19%; 10 studies, 39,966 participants) in deciduous dentition and 14% (95% CI 5% to 23%; 8 studies, 53,538 participants) in permanent dentition. The majority of studies (71%) were conducted prior to 1975 and the widespread introduction of the use of fluoride toothpaste.
There is insufficient information to determine whether initiation of a water fluoridation programme results in a change in disparities in caries across socioeconomic status (SES) levels.
There is insufficient information to determine the effect of stopping water fluoridation programmes on caries levels.
No studies that aimed to determine the effectiveness of water fluoridation for preventing caries in adults met the review's inclusion criteria.
With regard to dental fluorosis, we estimated that for a fluoride level of 0.7 ppm the percentage of participants with fluorosis of aesthetic concern was approximately 12% (95% CI 8% to 17%; 40 studies, 59,630 participants). This increases to 40% (95% CI 35% to 44%) when considering fluorosis of any level (detected under highly controlled, clinical conditions; 90 studies, 180,530 participants). Over 97% of the studies were at high risk of bias and there was substantial between-study variation.
There is very little contemporary evidence, meeting the review's inclusion criteria, that has evaluated the effectiveness of water fluoridation for the prevention of caries.
The available data come predominantly from studies conducted prior to 1975, and indicate that water fluoridation is effective at reducing caries levels in both deciduous and permanent dentition in children. Our confidence in the size of the effect estimates is limited by the observational nature of the study designs, the high risk of bias within the studies and, importantly, the applicability of the evidence to current lifestyles. The decision to implement a water fluoridation programme relies upon an understanding of the population's oral health behaviour (e.g. use of fluoride toothpaste), the availability and uptake of other caries prevention strategies, their diet and consumption of tap water and the movement/migration of the population. There is insufficient evidence to determine whether water fluoridation results in a change in disparities in caries levels across SES. We did not identify any evidence, meeting the review's inclusion criteria, to determine the effectiveness of water fluoridation for preventing caries in adults.
There is insufficient information to determine the effect on caries levels of stopping water fluoridation programmes.
There is a significant association between dental fluorosis (of aesthetic concern or all levels of dental fluorosis) and fluoride level. The evidence is limited due to high risk of bias within the studies and substantial between-study variation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pain is a patient-important outcome, but current reporting in randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews is often suboptimal, impeding clinical interpretation and decision making.
A working group at the 2014 Outcome Measures in Rheumatology (OMERACT 12) was convened to provide guidance for reporting treatment effects regarding pain for individual studies and systematic reviews.
For individual trials, authors should report, in addition to mean change, the proportion of patients achieving 1 or more thresholds of improvement from baseline pain (e.g., ≥ 20%, ≥ 30%, ≥ 50%), achievement of a desirable pain state (e.g., no worse than mild pain), and/or a combination of change and state. Effects on pain should be accompanied by other patient-important outcomes to facilitate interpretation. When pooling data for metaanalysis, authors should consider converting all continuous measures for pain to a 100 mm visual analog scale (VAS) for pain and use the established, minimally important difference (MID) of 10 mm, and the conventionally used, appreciably important differences of 20 mm, 30 mm, and 50 mm, to facilitate interpretation. Effects ≤ 0.5 units suggest a small or very small effect. To further increase interpretability, the pooled estimate on the VAS should also be transformed to a binary outcome and expressed as a relative risk and risk difference. This transformation can be achieved by calculating the probability of experiencing a treatment effect greater than the MID and the thresholds for appreciably important differences in pain reduction in the control and intervention groups.
Presentation of relative effects regarding pain will facilitate interpretation of treatment effects.
The Journal of Rheumatology 05/2015; DOI:10.3899/jrheum.141440 · 3.17 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective. Pain is a patient-important outcome, but current reporting in randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews is often suboptimal, impeding clinical interpretation and decision making. Methods. A working group at the 2014 Outcome Measures in Rheumatology (OMERACT 12) was convened to provide guidance for reporting treatment effects regarding pain for individual studies and systematic reviews. Results. For individual trials, authors should report, in addition to mean change, the proportion of patients achieving 1 or more thresholds of improvement from baseline pain (e.g., ≥ 20%, ≥ 30%, ≥ 50%), achievement of a desirable pain state (e.g., no worse than mild pain), and/or a combination of change and state. Effects on pain should be accompanied by other patient-important outcomes to facilitate interpretation. When pooling data for metaanalysis, authors should consider converting all continuous measures for pain to a 100 mm visual analog scale (VAS) for pain and use the established, minimally important difference (MID) of 10 mm, and the conventionally used, appreciably important differences of 20 mm, 30 mm, and 50 mm, to facilitate interpretation. Effects ≤ 0.5 units suggest a small or very small effect. To further increase interpretability, the pooled estimate on the VAS should also be transformed to a binary outcome and expressed as a relative risk and risk difference. This transformation can be achieved by calculating the probability of experiencing a treatment effect greater than the MID and the thresholds for appreciably important differences in pain reduction in the control and intervention groups. Conclusion. Presentation of relative effects regarding pain will facilitate interpretation of treatment effects. (J Rheumatol First Release May 15 2015; doi:10.3899/jrheum.141440) Key Indexing Terms: OMERACT OUTCOMES PAIN CLINICAL TRIALS VISUAL ANALOG SCALE SYSTEMATIC REVIEWS
The Journal of Rheumatology 05/2015; DOI:10.3899/jrheum.141440) · 3.17 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although protocol registration for systematic reviews is still not mandatory, reviewers should be strongly encouraged to register the protocol to identify the methodological approach, including all outcomes of interest. This will minimize the likelihood of biased decisions in reviews, such as selective outcome reporting. A group of international experts convened to address issues regarding the need to develop hierarchical lists of outcome measurement instruments for a particular outcome for metaanalyses.
Multiple outcome measurement instruments exist to measure the same outcome. Metaanalysis of knee osteoarthritis (OA) trials, and the assessment of pain as an outcome, was used as an exemplar to assess how Outcome Measures in Rheumatology (OMERACT), the Cochrane Collaboration, and other international initiatives might contribute in this area. The meeting began with formal presentations of background topics, empirical evidence from the literature, and a brief introduction to 2 existing hierarchical lists of pain outcome measurement instruments recommended for metaanalyses of knee OA trials.
After discussions, most participants agreed that there is a need to develop a methodology for generation of hierarchical lists of outcome measurement instruments to guide metaanalyses. Tools that could be used to steer development of such a prioritized list are the COSMIN checklist (Consensus-based Standards for the selection of health status Measurement Instruments) and the OMERACT Filter 2.0.
We list meta-epidemiological research agenda items that address the frequency of reported outcomes in trials, as well as methodologies to assess the best measurement properties (i.e., truth, discrimination, and feasibility).
The Journal of Rheumatology 05/2015; 16(Suppl 1). DOI:10.3899/jrheum.141384 · 3.17 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Systematic reviews represent one of the most important tools for knowledge translation but users often struggle with understanding and interpreting their results. GRADE Summary-of-Findings tables have been developed to display results of systematic reviews in a concise and transparent manner. The current format of the Summary-of-Findings tables for presenting risks and quality of evidence improves understanding and assists users with finding key information from the systematic review. However, it has been suggested that additional methods to present risks and display results in the Summary-of-Findings tables are needed.
We will conduct a non-inferiority parallel-armed randomized controlled trial to determine whether an alternative format to present risks and display Summary-of-Findings tables is not inferior compared to the current standard format. We will measure participant understanding, accessibility of the information, satisfaction, and preference for both formats. We will invite systematic review users to participate (that is clinicians, guideline developers, and researchers). The data collection process will be undertaken using the online 'Survey Monkey' system. For the primary outcome understanding, non-inferiority of the alternative format (Table A) to the current standard format (Table C) of Summary-of-Findings tables will be claimed if the upper limit of a 1-sided 95% confidence interval (for the difference of proportion of participants answering correctly a given question) excluded a difference in favor of the current format of more than 10%.
This study represents an effort to provide systematic reviewers with additional options to display review results using Summary-of-Findings tables. In this way, review authors will have a variety of methods to present risks and more flexibility to choose the most appropriate table features to display (that is optional columns, risks expressions, complementary methods to display continuous outcomes, and so on).
NCT02022631 (21 December 2013).