CAT HPPR: a critical appraisal tool to assess the quality of systematic, rapid, and scoping reviews investigating interventions in health promotion and prevention

BMC Med Res Methodol. 2022 Dec 26;22(1):334. doi: 10.1186/s12874-022-01821-4.


BACKGROUND: For over three decades researchers have developed critical appraisal tools (CATs) for assessing the scientific quality of research overviews. Most established CATs for reviews in evidence-based medicine and evidence-based public health (EBPH) focus on systematic reviews (SRs) with studies on experimental interventions or exposure included. EBPH- and implementation-oriented organisations and decision-makers, however, often seek access to rapid reviews (RRs) or scoping reviews (ScRs) for rapid evidence synthesis and research field exploration. Until now, no CAT is available to assess the quality of SRs, RRs, and ScRs following a unified approach. We set out to develop such a CAT.

METHODS: The development process of the Critical Appraisal Tool for Health Promotion and Prevention Reviews (CAT HPPR) included six phases: (i) the definition of important review formats and complementary approaches, (ii) the identification of relevant CATs, (iii) prioritisation, selection and adaptation of quality criteria using a consensus approach, (iv) development of the rating system and bilingual guidance documents, (v) engaging with experts in the field for piloting/optimising the CAT, and (vi) approval of the final CAT. We used a pragmatic search approach to identify reporting guidelines/standards (n = 3; e.g. PRISMA, MECIR) as well as guidance documents (n = 17; e.g. for reviews with mixed-methods approach) to develop working definitions for SRs, RRs, ScRs, and other review types (esp. those defined by statistical methods or included data sources).

RESULTS: We successfully identified 14 relevant CATs, predominantly for SRs (e.g. AMSTAR 2), and extracted 46 items. Following consensual discussions 15 individual criteria were included in our CAT and tailored to the review types of interest. The CAT was piloted with 14 different reviews which were eligible to be included in a new German database looking at interventions in health promotion and prevention in different implementation settings.

CONCLUSIONS: The newly developed CAT HPPR follows a unique uniformed approach to assess a set of heterogeneous reviews (e.g. reviews from problem identification to policy evaluations) to assist end-users needs. Feedback of external experts showed general feasibility and satisfaction with the tool. Future studies should further formally test the validity of CAT HPPR using larger sets of reviews.

PMID:36567381 | DOI:10.1186/s12874-022-01821-4

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