Background: Evidence from observational comparative efectiveness research (CER) is ranked below that from randomized controlled trials in traditional evidence hierarchies. However, asthma observational CER studies represent an important complementary evidence source answering diferent research questions and are particularly valuable in guiding clinical decision making in real-life patient and practice settings. Tools are required to assist in quality appraisal of observational CER to enable identifcation of and confdence in high-quality CER evidence to inform guideline development. Methods: The REal Life EVidence AssessmeNt Tool (RELEVANT) was developed through a step-wise approach. We conducted an iterative refnement of the tool based on Task Force member expertise and feedback from pilot testing the tool until reaching adequate inter-rater agreement percentages. Two distinct pilots were conducted—the frst involving six members of the Respiratory Efectiveness Group (REG) and European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) joint Task Force for quality appraisal of observational asthma CER; the second involving 22 members of REG and EAACI membership. The fnal tool consists of 21 quality sub-items distributed across seven methodology domains: Background, Design, Measures, Analysis, Results, Discussion/Interpretation, and Confict of Interest. Eleven of these sub-items are considered critical and named “primary sub-items”. Results: Following the second pilot, RELEVANT showed inter-rater agreement ≥70% for 94% of all primary and 93% for all secondary sub-items tested across three rater groups. For observational CER to be classifed as sufciently high quality for future guideline consideration, all RELEVANT primary sub-items must be fulflled. The ten secondary subitems further qualify the relative strengths and weaknesses of the published CER evidence. RELEVANT could also be applicable to general quality appraisal of observational CER across other medical specialties. Conclusions: RELEVANT is the frst quality checklist to assist in the appraisal of published observational CER developed through iterative feedback derived from pilot implementation and inter-rater agreement evaluation. Developed for a REG-EAACI Task Force quality appraisal of recent asthma CER, RELEVANT also has wider utility to support appraisal of CER literature in general (including pre-publication). It may also assist in manuscript development and in educating relevant stakeholders about key quality markers in observational CER.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Asthma, Comparative efectiveness research (CER), Quality, Observational studies, Assessment tool
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13601-019-0256-9, hdl.handle.net/1765/116206
Journal Clinical and Translational Allergy
Citation
Campbell, J.D., Perry, R., Papadopoulos, N, Krishnan, J, Brusselle, G.G, Chisholm, A, … Roche, N. (2019). The REal Life EVidence AssessmeNt Tool (RELEVANT): development of a novel quality assurance asset to rate observational comparative effectiveness research studies. Clinical and Translational Allergy, 9. doi:10.1186/s13601-019-0256-9