A proposed framework for developing quality assessment tools

P. Whiting, R. Wolff, S. Mallett, I. Simera, J. Savović

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Assessment of the quality of included studies is an essential component of any systematic review.
A formal quality assessment is facilitated by using a structured tool. There are currently no guidelines available for researchers wanting to develop a new quality assessment tool.

Methods: This paper provides a framework for developing quality assessment tools based on our experiences of developing a variety of quality assessment tools for studies of differing designs over the last 14 years. We have also
drawn on experience from the work of the EQUATOR Network in producing guidance for developing reporting guidelines.

Results: We do not recommend a single ‘best’ approach. Instead, we provide a general framework with suggestions as to how the different stages can be approached. Our proposed framework is based around three key stages: initial steps, tool development and dissemination.

Conclusions: We recommend that anyone who would like to develop a new quality assessment tool follow the stages outlined in this paper. We hope that our proposed framework will increase the number of tools developed using robust methods
Original languageEnglish
Article number204
Number of pages9
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


  • risk of bias
  • systematic reviews
  • quality


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