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      Use of Simulation Modeling to Inform Decision Making for Health Care Systems and Policy in Colorectal Cancer Screening: Protocol for a Systematic Review

      , BSc, MD 1 , , , MSc 1 , , MD, PhD 2 , , BSc, BCom, PhD 3
      (Reviewer), (Reviewer)
      JMIR Research Protocols
      JMIR Publications
      colorectal cancer screening, simulation modeling, decision-making, model validation

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          Simulation modeling has frequently been used to assess interventions in complex aspects of health care, such as colorectal cancer (CRC) screening, where clinical trials are not feasible. Simulation models provide estimates of outcomes, unintended consequences, and costs of an intervention; thus offering an invaluable decision aid for policy makers and health care leaders. However, the contribution that simulation models have made to policy and health system decisions is unknown.


          This study aims to assess if simulation modeling has supported evidence-informed decision making in CRC screening.


          A preliminary literature search and pilot screening of 100 references were conducted by three independent reviewers to define and refine the inclusion criteria of this systematic review. Using the developed inclusion criteria, a search of the academic and gray literature published between January 1, 2008, and March 1, 2019, will be conducted to identify studies that developed a simulation model focusing on the delivery of CRC screening of average-risk individuals. The three independent reviewers will assess the validation process and the extent to which the study contributed evidence toward informed decision making (both reported and potential). Validation will be assessed based on adherence to the best practice recommendations described by the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research-Society for Medical Decision Making (ISPOR-SMDM). Criteria for potential contribution to decision making will be defined as outlined in the internationally recognized Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation Evidence to Decision (GRADE EtD) framework. These criteria outline information that the health system and policy decision makers should consider when making an evidence-informed decision including an intervention’s resource utilization, cost-effectiveness, impact on health equity, and feasibility. Subgroup analysis of articles based on their GRADE EtD criteria will be conducted to identify methods associated with decision support capacity (ie, participatory, quantitative, or mixed methods).


          A database search of the literature yielded 484 references to screen for inclusion in the systematic review. We anticipate that this systematic review will provide an insight into the contribution of simulation modeling methods to informed decision making in CRC screening delivery and discuss methods that may be associated with a stronger impact on decision making. The project was funded in May 2019. Data collection took place from January 2008 to March 2019. Data analysis was completed in November 2019, and are expected to be published in spring 2020.


          Our findings will help guide researchers and health care leaders to mobilize the potential for simulation modeling to inform evidence-informed decisions in CRC screening delivery. The methods of this study may also be replicated to assess the utility of simulation modeling in other areas of complex health care decision making.

          International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID)


          Trial Registration

          PROSPERO no. 130823; https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/PROSPERO

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          The utilisation of health research in policy-making: concepts, examples and methods of assessment

          The importance of health research utilisation in policy-making, and of understanding the mechanisms involved, is increasingly recognised. Recent reports calling for more resources to improve health in developing countries, and global pressures for accountability, draw greater attention to research-informed policy-making. Key utilisation issues have been described for at least twenty years, but the growing focus on health research systems creates additional dimensions. The utilisation of health research in policy-making should contribute to policies that may eventually lead to desired outcomes, including health gains. In this article, exploration of these issues is combined with a review of various forms of policy-making. When this is linked to analysis of different types of health research, it assists in building a comprehensive account of the diverse meanings of research utilisation. Previous studies report methods and conceptual frameworks that have been applied, if with varying degrees of success, to record utilisation in policy-making. These studies reveal various examples of research impact within a general picture of underutilisation. Factors potentially enhancing utilisation can be identified by exploration of: priority setting; activities of the health research system at the interface between research and policy-making; and the role of the recipients, or 'receptors', of health research. An interfaces and receptors model provides a framework for analysis. Recommendations about possible methods for assessing health research utilisation follow identification of the purposes of such assessments. Our conclusion is that research utilisation can be better understood, and enhanced, by developing assessment methods informed by conceptual analysis and review of previous studies.
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            The GRADE Evidence to Decision (EtD) framework for health system and public health decisions

            Objective To describe a framework for people making and using evidence-informed health system and public health recommendations and decisions. Background We developed the GRADE Evidence to Decision (EtD) framework for health system and public health decisions as part of the DECIDE project, in which we simultaneously developed frameworks for these and other types of healthcare decisions, including clinical recommendations, coverage decisions and decisions about diagnostic tests. Developing the framework Building on GRADE EtD tables, we used an iterative approach, including brainstorming, consultation of the literature and with stakeholders, and an international survey of policy-makers. We applied the framework to diverse examples, conducted workshops and user testing with health system and public health guideline developers and policy-makers, and observed and tested its use in real-life guideline panels. Findings All the GRADE EtD frameworks share the same basic structure, including sections for formulating the question, making an assessment and drawing conclusions. Criteria listed in the assessment section of the health system and public health framework cover the important factors for making these types of decisions; in addition to the effects and economic impact of an option, the priority of the problem, the impact of the option on equity, and its acceptability and feasibility are important considerations that can inform both whether and how to implement an option. Because health system and public health interventions are often complex, detailed implementation considerations should be made when making a decision. The certainty of the evidence is often low or very low, but decision-makers must still act. Monitoring and evaluation are therefore often important considerations for these types of decisions. We illustrate the different components of the EtD framework for health system and public health decisions by presenting their application in a framework adapted from a real-life guideline. Discussion This framework provides a structured and transparent approach to support policy-making informed by the best available research evidence, while making the basis for decisions accessible to those whom they will affect. The health system and public health EtD framework can also be used to facilitate dissemination of recommendations and enable decision-makers to adopt, and adapt, recommendations or decisions. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1186/s12961-018-0320-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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              Recommendations on screening for colorectal cancer in primary care.


                Author and article information

                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Research Protocols
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                May 2020
                13 May 2020
                : 9
                : 5
                : e16103
                [1 ] Telfer School of Management University of Ottawa Ottawa, ON Canada
                [2 ] Division of Colorectal Surgery The Ottawa Hospital Department of Surgery Ottawa, ON Canada
                [3 ] Office of Research Services MacEwan University Edmonton, AB Canada
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Heather Smith hsmit037@ 123456uottawa.ca
                Author information
                ©Heather Smith, Peyman Varshoei, Robin Boushey, Craig Kuziemsky. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (http://www.researchprotocols.org), 13.05.2020.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.researchprotocols.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                : 2 September 2019
                : 18 October 2019
                : 9 November 2019
                : 26 November 2019

                colorectal cancer screening,simulation modeling,decision-making,model validation


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