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Key Concepts for assessing claims about treatment effects and making well-informed treatment choices

Oxman, Andrew David; Chalmers, Iain; Dahlgren, Astrid; The Informed Health Choices Group

The Informed Health Choices (IHC) Key Concepts serve as the basis for developing learning resources to help people understand and apply the concepts when claims about the effects of treatments (and other interventions) are made, and when they make health choices. They are also the basis for an item bank of multiple-choice questions (the Claim Evaluation Tools item bank) that can be used for assessing people’s ability to apply the IHC Key Concepts.

The concepts are principles for evaluating the trustworthiness of treatment claims, comparisons, and choices. The concepts can help people to recognise when a claim about the effects of treatments has an untrustworthy basis, recognise when evidence from comparisons of treatments is trustworthy and when it is not, and make well-informed choices about treatments.

They can help anyone, not just researchers, to think critically about whether to believe a treatment claim and what to do. This is sometimes referred to as critical health literacy. We have not included concepts that are only relevant for researchers or that require a research background. The Key Concepts are intended for people using research, not for doing research.

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