AHRQ Series on Complex Intervention Systematic Reviews

Adapting Frameworks to Develop Protocols

Published in: Journal of Clinical Epidemiology [Epub July 2017]. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2017.06.013

Posted on RAND.org on August 25, 2017

by Mary Butler, Richard A. Epstein, Annette M. Totten, Evelyn P. Whitlock, Mohammed T. Ansari, Laura J. Damschroder, Ethan Balk, Eric Bass, Nancy D. Berkman, Susanne Hempel, et al.

Read More

Access further information on this document at Elsevier Inc

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Background

Once a proposed topic has been identified for a systematic review and has undergone a question formulation stage, a protocol must be developed that specifies the scope and research questions in detail and outlines the methodology for conducting the systematic review.

Rationale

Framework modifications are often needed to accommodate increased complexity. We describe and give examples of adaptations and alternatives to traditional analytic frameworks.

Discussion

This article identifies and describes elements of frameworks and how they can be adapted to inform the protocol and conduct of systematic reviews of complex interventions. Modifications may be needed to adapt the population, intervention, comparators, and outcomes normally used in protocol development to successfully describe complex interventions; in some instances, alternative frameworks may be better suited. Possible approaches to analytic frameworks for complex interventions that illustrate causal and associative linkages are outlined, including time elements, which systematic reviews of complex interventions may need to address. The need for and specifics of the accommodations vary with details of a specific systematic review. This in turn helps determine whether traditional frameworks are sufficient, can be refined, or if alternate frameworks must be adopted.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.