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      Acceptability of healthcare interventions: an overview of reviews and development of a theoretical framework


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          It is increasingly acknowledged that ‘acceptability’ should be considered when designing, evaluating and implementing healthcare interventions. However, the published literature offers little guidance on how to define or assess acceptability. The purpose of this study was to develop a multi-construct theoretical framework of acceptability of healthcare interventions that can be applied to assess prospective (i.e. anticipated) and retrospective (i.e. experienced) acceptability from the perspective of intervention delivers and recipients.


          Two methods were used to select the component constructs of acceptability. 1) An overview of reviews was conducted to identify systematic reviews that claim to define, theorise or measure acceptability of healthcare interventions. 2) Principles of inductive and deductive reasoning were applied to theorise the concept of acceptability and develop a theoretical framework. Steps included (1) defining acceptability; (2) describing its properties and scope and (3) identifying component constructs and empirical indicators.


          From the 43 reviews included in the overview, none explicitly theorised or defined acceptability. Measures used to assess acceptability focused on behaviour (e.g. dropout rates) (23 reviews), affect (i.e. feelings) (5 reviews), cognition (i.e. perceptions) (7 reviews) or a combination of these (8 reviews).

          From the methods described above we propose a definition: Acceptability is a multi-faceted construct that reflects the extent to which people delivering or receiving a healthcare intervention consider it to be appropriate, based on anticipated or experienced cognitive and emotional responses to the intervention. The theoretical framework of acceptability (TFA) consists of seven component constructs: affective attitude, burden, perceived effectiveness, ethicality, intervention coherence, opportunity costs, and self-efficacy.


          Despite frequent claims that healthcare interventions have assessed acceptability, it is evident that acceptability research could be more robust. The proposed definition of acceptability and the TFA can inform assessment tools and evaluations of the acceptability of new or existing interventions.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-017-2031-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references39

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          Systems for grading the quality of evidence and the strength of recommendations I: Critical appraisal of existing approaches The GRADE Working Group

          Background A number of approaches have been used to grade levels of evidence and the strength of recommendations. The use of many different approaches detracts from one of the main reasons for having explicit approaches: to concisely characterise and communicate this information so that it can easily be understood and thereby help people make well-informed decisions. Our objective was to critically appraise six prominent systems for grading levels of evidence and the strength of recommendations as a basis for agreeing on characteristics of a common, sensible approach to grading levels of evidence and the strength of recommendations. Methods Six prominent systems for grading levels of evidence and strength of recommendations were selected and someone familiar with each system prepared a description of each of these. Twelve assessors independently evaluated each system based on twelve criteria to assess the sensibility of the different approaches. Systems used by 51 organisations were compared with these six approaches. Results There was poor agreement about the sensibility of the six systems. Only one of the systems was suitable for all four types of questions we considered (effectiveness, harm, diagnosis and prognosis). None of the systems was considered usable for all of the target groups we considered (professionals, patients and policy makers). The raters found low reproducibility of judgements made using all six systems. Systems used by 51 organisations that sponsor clinical practice guidelines included a number of minor variations of the six systems that we critically appraised. Conclusions All of the currently used approaches to grading levels of evidence and the strength of recommendations have important shortcomings.
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            The CONSORT statement: revised recommendations for improving the quality of reports of parallel-group randomised trials.

            To comprehend the results of a randomised controlled trial (RCT), readers must understand its design, conduct, analysis, and interpretation. That goal can be achieved only through total transparency from authors. Despite several decades of educational efforts, the reporting of RCTs needs improvement. Investigators and editors developed the original CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) statement to help authors improve reporting by use of a checklist and flow diagram. The revised CONSORT statement presented here incorporates new evidence and addresses some criticisms of the original statement. The checklist items pertain to the content of the Title, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. The revised checklist includes 22 items selected because empirical evidence indicates that not reporting this information is associated with biased estimates of treatment effect, or because the information is essential to judge the reliability or relevance of the findings. We intended the flow diagram to depict the passage of participants through an RCT. The revised flow diagram depicts information from four stages of a trial (enrollment, intervention allocation, follow-up, and analysis). The diagram explicitly shows the number of participants, for each intervention group, included in the primary data analysis. Inclusion of these numbers allows the reader to judge whether the authors have done an intention-to-treat analysis. In sum, the CONSORT statement is intended to improve the reporting of an RCT, enabling readers to understand a trial's conduct and to assess the validity of its results.
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              The importance of patient preferences in treatment decisions--challenges for doctors.


                Author and article information

                +0044 0207 040 0890 , Mandeep.sekhon.1@city.ac.uk
                BMC Health Serv Res
                BMC Health Serv Res
                BMC Health Services Research
                BioMed Central (London )
                26 January 2017
                26 January 2017
                : 17
                : 88
                ISNI 0000 0004 1936 8497, GRID grid.28577.3f, , City, University of London, ; Northampton Square, London, EC1V 0JB UK
                Author information
                © The Author(s). 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                : 15 August 2016
                : 17 January 2017
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2017

                Health & Social care
                acceptability,defining constructs,theory development,complex intervention,healthcare intervention


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