Health problem and current use of the technology

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This domain describes the target conditions, target groups, epidemiology and the availability and patterns of use of the technology in question. Furthermore, the domain addresses the burden – both on individuals and on the society – caused by the health problem, the alternatives to the technology in question, as well as the regulatory status of the technology and the requirements for its use.  It  covers the qualitative description of the target condition, including the underlying mechanism (pathophysiology), natural history (i.e. course of disease), available screening and diagnostic methods, prognosis, and epidemiology (incidence, prevalence), as well as the underlying risk factors for acquiring the condition as well as available treatments. A description of subgroups or special indications should be included especially in the case when the technology does not target the whole population. (1)

Sources to search

  • Review articles and textbooks can be helpful for finding information about the history and characteristics of established technology.
  • Health sciences databases (e.g. MEDLINE, Embase, The Cochrane Library, CRD databases, Cinahl, BIOSIS, PsycInfo)
  • Social sciences databases (e.g. Sociological Abstracts, Social Care Online, ASSIA)
  • General science publishers' databases (e.g. ScienceDirect, Ebsco Academic Search Elite, PubMed Central, BioMed Central)
  • Other databases (e.g. ERIC, Joanna Briggs Institute, WHO, OECD)
  • Ongoing research databases (e.g., EunetHTA POP Database, Prospero)
  • Horizon scanning databases (e.g. Euroscan)
  • Grey literature (e.g. OAIster, Dissertation Abstracts)
  • Registers and statistics (e.g. disease registers, national screening registers, pharmaceutical registers, routinely collected statistics and administrative data)
  • Websites (e.g. patient associations, manufacturers, regulatory institutions)
  • Other sources (e.g. market research reports, industry, expert opinions, national and regional guidelines, norms and regulations)

Designing search strategies

Methodologies familiar from clinical or HTA research are not suitable for finding proper up-to-date answers for questions of this domain. It may be much faster and more efficient to collect a proper background set of information through an international survey among HTA agencies, health ministries or health service providers, rather than to perform extensive literature searches. If a literature search is conducted, basic principles of systematic review methodology should be followed. (1)

Reference list