Prioritising public health guidance topics in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence using the Analytic Hierarchy Process

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Reddy, B.P. ; Kelly, M.P. ; Thokala, P. ; Walters, S.J. ; Duenas, A. (2014)
  • Publisher: Elsevier BV
  • Journal: Public Health (issn: 0033-3506, vol: 128, pp: 896-903)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2014.07.003
  • Subject: Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

The Centre for Public Health (CPH), at the United Kingdom's National Institute\ud for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is responsible for producing national guidance\ud relating to the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of disease.\ud Given the challenges of developing guidance in this area, choosing the most appropriate\ud topics for further study is of fundamental importance. This paper explores the current\ud prioritisation process and describes how the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), a multi\ud criteria decision analysis (MCDA) technique, might be used to do so.\ud Study design: A proposed approach is outlined, which was tested in a proof of concept pilot.\ud This consisted of eight participants with experience of related NICE committees building\ud scores for each topic together in a 'decision conference' setting.\ud Methods: Criteria were identified and subsequently weighted to indicate the relative\ud importance of each. Participants then collaboratively estimated the performance of each\ud topic on each criterion.\ud Results: Total scores for each topic were calculated, which could be ranked and used as the\ud basis for better informed discussion for prioritising topics to recommend to the Minister for\ud future guidance. Sensitivity analyses of the dataset found it to be robust.\ud Conclusions: Choosing the right topics for guidance at the earliest possible time is of\ud fundamental importance to public health guidance, and judgement is likely to play an\ud important part in doing so. MCDA techniques offer a potentially useful approach to\ud structuring the problem in a rational and transparent way. NICE should consider carefully\ud whether such an approach might be worth pursuing in the future
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