How to use a decision analysis

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Mastracci TM, Thoma A, Farrokhyar F, Tandan VR, CinĂ  CS; Evidence-Based Surgery Working Group. Users' guide to the surgical literature: how to use a decision analysis. Can J Surg 2007;50(5):403-9.


A decision analysis is a quantitative method used to assess the relative value of different options to deal with a clinical choice under conditions of uncertainty. This uncertainty may be a clinical scenario that differs from the specific conditions of clinical trials or conflicting results from multiple trials. It has been defined as,

a method of describing complex clinical problems in an explicit fashion, identifying the available courses of action, assessing the probability and value of all possible outcomes, and then making a simple calculation to select the optimal course of action.

The goal of a decision analysis is to identify the most effective therapeutic or diagnostic approach. It is most valuable in areas where randomized controlled trials are lacking, or where consensus for definitive management has not been reached.

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