Appraisal of: "Ara R, Brazier J, Peasgood T, Paisley S. The identification, review and synthesis of health state utility values from the literature. Pharmacoeconomics. 2017;35:43–55."

Short description: 

This paper is a guidance document providing an overview of how health state utility values can be identified, reviewed and synthesised when conducting systematic reviews. The paper includes a case study of a review in osteoporosis-related conditions.

In terms of study identification, the authors note that a range of study designs could be relevant and that a number of instruments could be required including condition-specific preference based measures or generic preference based measures. They recommend that a variety of resources and methods should be used to identify studies. As well as electronic databases, searchers should also look at reference lists, conduct key author and citation searches and contact experts.

The authors recommend caution in using filters too early in the search process, to avoid missing potentially relevant studies. The authors also note the absence of dedicated subject headings within MeSH and EMTREE, and that although general subject headings such as ‘Quality of life’ will yield relevant studies, they are likely to demonstrate poor precision. Free text terms should be included in searches and are categorised as general terms (such as QALY), instrument specific terms (such as EQ-5D) and terms describing methods of utility elicitation such as standard gamble.

Limitations stated by the author(s): 

The authors discuss the issues of searching for utility studies including current limitations. They do not discuss limitations of their review and do not provide details of their methods in this publication.

Limitations stated by the reviewer(s): 
The overview and recommendations in relation to searching do not seem controversial.
Study Type: 
Single study