Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Evidence-based Practice Center methods provide guidance on prioritization and selection of harms in systematic reviews

Roger Chou, William L. Baker, Lionel L. Bañez, Suchitra Iyer, Evan R. Myers, Sydne Newberry, Laura Pincock, Karen A Robinson, Lyndzie Sardenga, Nila Sathe, Stacey Springs, Timothy J. Wilt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: Systematic reviews should provide balanced assessments of benefits and harms, while focusing on the most important outcomes. Selection of harms to be reviewed can be a challenge due to the potential for large numbers of diverse harms. Study Design and Setting: A workgroup of methodologists from Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs) developed consensus-based guidance on selection and prioritization of harms in systematic reviews. Recommendations were informed by a literature scan, review of Evidence-based Practice Center reports, and interviews with experts in conducting reviews or assessing harms and persons representing organizations that commission or use systematic reviews. Results: Ten recommendations were developed on selection and prioritization of harms, including routinely focusing on serious as well as less serious but frequent or bothersome harms; routinely engaging stakeholders and using literature searches and other data sources to identify important harms; using a prioritization process (formal or less formal) to inform selection decisions; and describing the methods used to select and prioritize harms. Conclusion: We provide preliminary guidance for a more structured approach to selection and prioritization of harms in systematic reviews.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • Adverse effects
  • Comparative effectiveness review
  • Harms
  • Recommendations
  • Study methodology
  • Systematic reviews

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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