Application of multicriteria decision analysis in health care: a systematic review and bibliometric analysis

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The use of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) in health care has become common. However, the literature lacks systematic review trend analysis on the application of MCDA in health care.


To systematically identify applications of MCDA to the areas of health care, and to report on publication trends.


English language studies published from January 1, 1980 until October 1, 2013 were included. Electronic databases searches were supplemented by searching conference proceedings and relevant journals. Studies considered for inclusion were those using MCDA techniques within the areas of health care, and involving the participation of decision makers. A bibliometric analysis was undertaken to present the publication trends.


A total of 66 citations met the inclusion criteria. An increase in publication trend occurred in the years 1990, 1997, 1999, 2005, 2008, and 2012. For the remaining years, the publication trend was either steady or declining. The trend shows that the number of publications reached its highest peak in 2012 (n = 9). Medical Decision Making was the dominant with the highest number published papers (n = 7). The majority of the studies were conducted in the US (n = 29). Medical Decision Making journal published the highest number of articles (n = 7). Analytic Hierarchy Process (n = 33) was the most used MCDA technique. Cancer was the most researched disease topic (n = 12). The most covered area of application was diagnosis and treatment (n = 26).


The review shows that MCDA has been applied to a broad range of areas in the health care, with the use of a variety of methodological approaches. Further research is needed to develop practice guidelines for the appropriate application and reporting of MCDA methods.

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