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EXPLICIT: a feasibility study of remote expert elicitation in health technology assessment.

BMC Med Inform Decis Mak; 17(1): 131, 2017 Sep 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28870196

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Expert opinion is often sought to complement available information needed to inform model-based economic evaluations in health technology assessments. In this context, we define expert elicitation as the process of encoding expert opinion on a quantity of interest, together with associated uncertainty, as a probability distribution. When availability for face-to-face expert elicitation with a facilitator is limited, elicitation can be conducted remotely, overcoming challenges of finding an appropriate time to meet the expert and allowing access to experts situated too far away for practical face-to-face sessions. However, distance elicitation is associated with reduced response rates and limited assistance for the expert during the elicitation session. The aim of this study was to inform the development of a remote elicitation tool by exploring the influence of mode of elicitation on elicited beliefs. METHODS: An Excel-based tool (EXPLICIT) was developed to assist the elicitation session, including the preparation of the expert and recording of their responses. General practitioners (GPs) were invited to provide expert opinion about population alcohol consumption behaviours. They were randomised to complete the elicitation by either a face-to-face meeting or email. EXPLICIT was used in the elicitation sessions for both arms. RESULTS: Fifteen GPs completed the elicitation session. Those conducted by email were longer than the face-to-face sessions (13 min 30 s vs 10 min 26 s, p = 0.1) and the email-elicited estimates contained less uncertainty. However, the resulting aggregated distributions were comparable. CONCLUSIONS: EXPLICIT was useful in both facilitating the elicitation task and in obtaining expert opinion from experts via email. The findings support the opinion that remote, self-administered elicitation is a viable approach within the constraints of HTA to inform policy making, although poor response rates may be observed and additional time for individual sessions may be required.