A Task Force was commissioned jointly by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) and the Respiratory Effectiveness Group (REG) to develop a quality assessment tool for real-life observational research to identify high-quality real-life asthma studies that could be considered within future guideline development.
The resulting REal Life EVidence AssessmeNt Tool (RELEVANT) was achieved through an extensive analysis of existing initiatives in this area. The first version was piloted among 9 raters across 6 articles; the revised, interim, version underwent extensive testing by 22 reviewers from the EAACI membership and REG collaborator group, leading to further revisions and tool finalisation. RELEVANT was validated through an analysis of real-life effectiveness studies identified via systematic review of Medline and Embase databases and relating to topics for which real-life studies may offer valuable evidence complementary to that from randomised controlled trials. The topics were selected through a vote among Task Force members and related to the influence of adherence, smoking, inhaler device and particle size on asthma treatment effectiveness.
Although highlighting a general lack of high-quality real-life effectiveness observational research on these clinically important topics, the analysis provided insights into how identified observational studies might inform asthma guidelines developers and clinicians. Overall, RELEVANT appeared reliable and easy to use by expert reviewers.
Using such quality appraisal tools is mandatory to assess whether specific observational real-life effectiveness studies can be used to inform guideline development and/or decision-making in clinical practice.
The authors would like to thank Katy Gallop and Sarah Acaster who contributed to the literature search and Zoe Mitchell who designed the web-based version of the tool.
This study was funded by the Respiratory Effectiveness Group (REG), and the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI).
Availability of data and materials
The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
- comparative effectiveness
- quality standards
- observational studies