Key Concepts for assessing claims about treatment effects and making well-informed treatment choices

F1000Res. 2018 Nov 12;7:1784. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.16771.2. eCollection 2018.


Background: The Informed Health Choices (IHC) Key Concepts are standards for judgement, or principles for evaluating the trustworthiness of treatment claims and treatment comparisons (evidence) used to support claims, and for making treatment choices. The list of concepts provides a framework, or starting point, for teachers, journalists and other intermediaries for identifying and developing resources (such as longer explanations, examples, games and interactive applications) to help people to understand and apply the concepts. The first version of the list was published in 2015 and has been updated yearly since then. We report here the changes that have been made from when the list was first published up to the current (2018) version. Methods: We developed the IHC Key Concepts by searching the literature and checklists written for the public, journalists, and health professionals; and by considering concepts related to assessing the certainty of evidence about the effects of treatments. We have revised the Key Concepts yearly, based on feedback and suggestions; and learning from using the IHC Key Concepts, other relevant frameworks, and adaptation of the IHC Key Concepts to other types of interventions besides treatments. Results: We have made many changes since the Key Concepts were first published in 2015. There are now 44 Key Concepts compared to the original 32; the concepts have been reorganised from six to three groups; we have added higher-level concepts in each of those groups; we have added short titles; and we have made changes to many of the concepts. Conclusions: The IHC Key Concepts have proven useful in designing learning resources, evaluating them, and organising them. We will continue to revise the IHC Key Concepts in response to feedback. We welcome suggestions for how to do this.

Keywords: causal inference; concepts; critical appraisal; critical thinking; epistemology; informed decision making; treatment claims.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Grant support

IC receives support through National Institute for Health Research funding for the James Lind Initiative. The IHC Key Concepts were developed as part of the Informed Health Choices Project, which was funded by the Research Council of Norway [220603/H10].