Strong public health recommendations from weak evidence? Lessons learned in developing guidance on the public health management of meningococcal disease
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
New york :Hindawi publishing corp
Engineering sciences. Technology
BioMed research international
, 10 p.
University of Antwerp
The evidence underpinning public health policy is often of low quality, leading to inconsistencies in recommended interventions. One example is the divergence in national policies across Europe for managing contacts of invasive meningococcal disease. Aiming to develop consistent guidance at the European level, a group of experts reviewed the literature and formulated recommendations. The group defined eight priority research questions, searched the literature, and formulated recommendations using GRADE methodology. Five of the research questions are discussed in this paper. After taking into account quality of evidence, benefit, harm, value, preference, burden on patient of the intervention, and resource implications, we made four strong recommendations and five weak recommendations for intervention. Strong recommendations related not only to one question with very low quality of evidence as well as to two questions with moderate to high quality of evidence. The weak recommendations related to two questions with low and very low quality of evidence but also to one question with moderate quality of evidence. GRADE methodology ensures a transparent process and explicit recognition of additional factors that should be considered when making recommendations for policy. This approach can be usefully applied to many areas of public health policy where evidence quality is often low.