A systematic survey identified methodological issues in studies estimating anchor-based minimal important differences in patient-reported outcomes

Yuting Wang*, Tahira Devji, Anila Qasim, Qiukui Hao, Vanessa Wong, Meha Bhatt, Manya Prasad, Ying Wang, Atefeh Noori, Yingqi Xiao, Maryam Ghadimi, Luis Enrique Colunga Lozano, Mark R. Phillips, Alonso Carrasco-Labra, Madeleine King, Berend Terluin, Caroline B. Terwee, Michael Walsh, Toshi A. Furukawa, Gordon H. Guyatt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: To systematically survey the literature addressing the reporting of studies estimating anchor-based minimal important differences (MIDs) and choice of optimal MIDs. Study design and Setting: We searched Medline, Embase and PsycINFO from 1987 to March 2020. Teams of two reviewers independently identified eligible publications and extracted quotations addressing relevant issues for reporting and/or selecting anchor-based MIDs. Using a coding list, we assigned the same code to quotations capturing similar or related issues. For each code, we generated an ‘item’, i.e., a specific phrase or sentence capturing the underlying concept. When multiple concepts existed under a single code, the team created multiple items for that code. We clustered codes addressing a broader methodological issue into a ‘category’ and classified items as relevant for reporting, relevant for selecting an anchor-based MID, or both. Results: We identified 136 eligible publications that provided 6 categories (MID definition, anchors, patient-reported outcome measures, generalizability and statistics) and 24 codes. These codes contained 34 items related to reporting MID studies, of which 29 were also related to selecting MIDs. Conclusion: The systematic survey identified items related to reporting of anchor-based MID studies and selecting optimal MIDs. These provide a conceptual framework to inform the design of studies related to MIDs, and a basis for developing a reporting standard and a selection approach for MIDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-151
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

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