Multicriteria decision analysis in oncology

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Abstract

Background

There has been a growing interest in the development and application of alternative decision-making frameworks within health care, including multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA). Even though the literature includes several reviews on MCDA methods, applications of MCDA in oncology are lacking.

Aim

The aim of this paper is to discuss a rationale for the use of MCDA in oncology. In this context, the following research question emerged: How can MCDA be used to develop a clinical decision support tool in oncology?

Methods

In this paper, a brief background on decision making is presented, followed by an overview of MCDA methods and process. The paper discusses some applications of MCDA, proposes research opportunities in the context of oncology and presents an illustrative example of how MCDA can be applied to oncology.

Findings

Decisions in oncology involve trade-offs between possible benefits and harms. MCDA can help analyse trade-off preferences. A wide range of MCDA methods exist. Each method has its strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the appropriate method varies depending on the source and nature of information used to inform decision making. The literature review identified eight studies. The analytical hierarchy process (AHP) was the most often used method in the identified studies.

Conclusion

Overall, MCDA appears to be a promising tool that can be used to assist clinical decision making in oncology. Nonetheless, field testing is desirable before MCDA becomes an established decision-making tool in this field.

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