gms | German Medical Science

Prävention zwischen Evidenz und Eminenz
15. Jahrestagung des Deutschen Netzwerks Evidenzbasierte Medizin

Deutsches Netzwerk Evidenzbasierte Medizin e. V.

13.03. - 15.03.2014, Halle (Saale)

The use of expert opinion in Health Technology Assessment

Meeting Abstract

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Prävention zwischen Evidenz und Eminenz. 15. Jahrestagung des Deutschen Netzwerks Evidenzbasierte Medizin. Halle, 13.-15.03.2014. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2014. Doc14ebmP14g

doi: 10.3205/14ebm146, urn:nbn:de:0183-14ebm1467

Veröffentlicht: 10. März 2014

© 2014 Hunger et al.
Dieser Artikel ist ein Open Access-Artikel und steht unter den Creative Commons Lizenzbedingungen ( Er darf vervielfältigt, verbreitet und öffentlich zugänglich gemacht werden, vorausgesetzt dass Autor und Quelle genannt werden.



Background: Health Technology Assessment (HTA) aims at combining the best available evidence to evaluate technologies in health care. Expert opinion is considered the lowest level of evidence. However, for certain questions or when robust evidence from trials is lacking, experts are consulted at different stages of the HTA process. When using vague information sources, it is particularly important to plan, analyze and report the information retrieval in a standardized and transparent way. Therefore, we looked for recommendations from HTA agencies on where and how to include experts in the HTA process.

Methods and materials: We performed a systematic database search and searched on the internet pages of 76 HTA organizations for guidelines, recommendations and methods papers that address the inclusion of experts in HTA. Here, we present the results from the search at HTA institutions’ websites. Relevant documents were downloaded and information was extracted in a standard form. Results were merged in tables and narrative evidence synthesis.

Results: From the web pages of 16 HTA organizations, we included 25 documents that refer to the use of expert data in HTA. Some describe how they integrate external experts, while most only state whether or not they are an acceptable information source.

Regarding the step where experts are consulted, 23 (92%) documents mention the actual technology assessment. Eleven (44%) documents address the role of experts in the context of scoping, seven (28%) at the appraisal of evidence and results, and five (20%) at the prioritization. Six (24%) documents mention experts when considering the dissemination of HTA results.

In the assessment step, experts are most often asked to amend the literature search by identifying further studies or to provide expertise for data analyses like Bayesian methods, indirect treatment comparisons, or modeling. Another task for experts is to appraise the HTA results and refer them back to a clinical and social context. Little is reported on the method of expert elicitation when their input substitutes study data. If at all, documents refer to general methods of empirical social research.

Conclusion: Despite existing recommendations on the use of expert opinion in HTA, common standards for eliciting expert data are scarce in HTA guidelines.