5. Beyond clinical effects – qualitative research for decision-making and HTA


Beyond clinical effects – qualitative research for decision-making and HTA

HTA processes should provide decision-makers with the best possible (accurate and comprehensive) information. To achieve this goal, the use of synthesis (such as meta-analysis, network meta-analysis, modelling) and critical appraisal (such as quality checklists) predominate in quantitative research in HTA processes. Methods to synthese qualitative research have been developed, thus allowing the qualitative data to be evaluated along with quantitative data in HTA. However, it is acknowledged that qualitative research requires its own methods for synthesis reflecting the nature of the underying qualitative principles, rather than simply using the same methods devised for quantitative research[1]. Qualitative evidence syntheses (QES) (also known as Qualitative systematic review, Qualitative meta-synthesis, Qualitative research synthesis) methods were developed to review evidence that goes beyond “what works” in a specific context. QES methods can address additional questions that complement those traditionally answered through systematic reviews of quantitative evidence, particularly reviews of randomized controlled trials (RCT). QES comprises a discrete set of methodologies (now over 30 methods) to undertake systematic reviews of primary qualitative research in health and other areas, such as social care (see Further reading for more in-depth information).