GRADE guidelines 32: GRADE offers guidance on choosing targets of GRADE certainty of evidence ratings

J Clin Epidemiol. 2021 Sep:137:163-175. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2021.03.026. Epub 2021 Apr 20.


Objective: To provide practical principles and examples to help GRADE users make optimal choices regarding their ratings of certainty of evidence using a minimally or partially contextualized approach.

Study design and setting: Based on the GRADE clarification of certainty of evidence in 2017, a project group within the GRADE Working Group conducted iterative discussions and presentations at GRADE Working Group meetings to refine this construct and produce practical guidance.

Results: Systematic review and health technology assessment authors need to clarify what it is in which they are rating their certainty of evidence (i.e., the target of their certainty rating). The decision depends on the degree of contextualization (partially or minimally contextualized), thresholds (null, small, moderate or large effect threshold), and where the point estimate lies in relation to the chosen threshold(s). When the 95% confidence interval crosses multiple possible thresholds (i.e., including both large benefit and large harm), it is not worthwhile for authors to determine the target of certainty rating.

Conclusion: GRADE provides practical principles to help systematic review and health technology assessment authors specify the target of their certainty of evidence rating.

Keywords: Evidence-based medicine; GRADE; Health technology assessment; Systematic review; Target of certainty of evidence rating; Thresholds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • GRADE Approach*
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic

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