Implementation of an interactive electronic platform for verification of health claims using systematic reviews
2The University of Essex, The UK
3Cochrane Iran, Iran
Background: The health information available in public media and the internet are a significant source of information, not only for people, but for health policymakers and health providers. However, it is not always easy to decide what information or claim is reliable, especially for non-English people.
Objectives: To provide an interactive source of health information in the Persian language that use systematic review studies.
Methods: In an interactive online platform (address: www.barpaye.ir), people can submit health claims that they are curious about. Claims will be considered for evaluation if they are publicly distributed. The selected claims are reformed regarding the population, intervention/exposure and outcome. Eligibility criteria and search strategies are developed based on the components of the question. Different databases such as Medline, Embase, Cochrane library, and Web of Science are searched for every question. Other databases may be searched in case of the relevancy to a specific question. Retrieved references are screened against the eligibility criteria by two screeners independently. A third reviewer solves disagreements. In case of any overlap in included review studies, more comprehensive or more recent reviews are considered. The findings of the final included reviews are summarized by a fourth reviewer. When data is available, informative data, such as the number of primary studies, number of randomized trials, total sample size, the largest study sample size, and synthesized measure of effect, are extracted. In the final stage, reports are edited and finalized by a fifth reviewer. The final report for every claim includes a plain-language summary and a certainty grade. Prisma flow chart and the effect direction table are developed in the reports.
Results: Currently, 20 claims have been submitted to the platform. Most submitted claims are about herbal medicine, nutrient and vitamins and complementary medicine interventions. In terms of health problems cosmetic interventions, obesity and cancer are more questioned.
Conclusions: The platform is a reliable source of health information for policymakers, health providers, and people. It transparently evaluates health claims in Persian language. It also uses systematic review evidence to support informed decision-making.
Patient, public and/or healthcare consumer involvement: Claims are submitted by public.