Objective: To provide guidance on how systematic review authors, guideline developers, and health technology assessment practitioners should approach the use of the risk of bias in nonrandomized studies of interventions (ROBINS-I) tool as a part of GRADE's certainty rating process.
Study design and setting: The study design and setting comprised iterative discussions, testing in systematic reviews, and presentation at GRADE working group meetings with feedback from the GRADE working group.
Results: We describe where to start the initial assessment of a body of evidence with the use of ROBINS-I and where one would anticipate the final rating would end up. The GRADE accounted for issues that mitigate concerns about confounding and selection bias by introducing the upgrading domains: large effects, dose-effect relations, and when plausible residual confounders or other biases increase certainty. They will need to be considered in an assessment of a body of evidence when using ROBINS-I.
Conclusions: The use of ROBINS-I in GRADE assessments may allow for a better comparison of evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and nonrandomized studies (NRSs) because they are placed on a common metric for risk of bias. Challenges remain, including appropriate presentation of evidence from RCTs and NRSs for decision-making and how to optimally integrate RCTs and NRSs in an evidence assessment.
Keywords: Certainty of the evidence; GRADE; Nonrandomized studies; Quality of evidence; ROBINS; Risk of bias.
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