Rating of Included Trials on the Efficacy–Effectiveness Spectrum: development of a new tool for systematic reviews

L. Susan Wieland*, Brian M. Berman, Douglas G. Altman, Jürgen Barth, Lex M. Bouter, Christopher R. D'Adamo, Klaus Linde, David Moher, C. Daniel Mullins, Shaun Treweek, Sean Tunis, Danielle A. van der Windt, Merrick Zwarenstein, Claudia Witt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background and Objective Randomized trials may be designed to provide evidence more strongly related to efficacy or effectiveness of an intervention. When systematic reviews are used to inform clinical or policy decisions, it is important to know the efficacy–effectiveness nature of the included trials. The objective of this study was to develop a tool to characterize randomized trials included in a systematic review on an efficacy–effectiveness continuum. Methods We extracted rating domains and descriptors from existing tools and used a modified Delphi procedure to condense the domains and develop a new tool. The feasibility and interrater reliability of the tool was tested on trials from four systematic reviews. Results The Rating of Included Trials on the Efficacy–Effectiveness Spectrum (RITES) tool rates clinical trials on a five-point Likert scale in four domains: (1) participant characteristics, (2) trial setting, (3) flexibility of interventions, and (4) clinical relevance of interventions. When RITES was piloted on trials from three reviews by unaffiliated raters, ratings were variable (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC] 0.25–0.66 for the four domains); but, when RITES was used on one review by the review authors with expertise on the topic, the ratings were consistent (ICCs > 0.80. Conclusion RITES may help to characterize the efficacy–effectiveness nature of trials included in systematic reviews.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-104
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Early online date7 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


FundersFunder number
National Center for Complementary and Integrative HealthR24AT001293


    • Applicability
    • Comparative effectiveness research
    • Effectiveness
    • Efficacy
    • Explanatory trial
    • Pragmatic trial
    • Randomized controlled trials
    • Systematic reviews


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