Development of the Anatomical Quality Assessment (AQUA) Tool for the Quality Assessment of Anatomical Studies included in Meta-Analyses and Systematic Reviews

Henry BM, Tomaszewski KA, Ramakrishnan PK, Roy J, Vikse J, Loukas M, Tubbs RS, Walocha JA.Development of the Anatomical Quality Assessment (AQUA) Tool for the Quality Assessment of Anatomical Studies included in Meta-Analyses and Systematic Reviews.Clin Anat. 2016 Oct 7. doi: 10.1002/ca.22799.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND:

Critical appraisal of anatomical studies is essential before the evidence from them undergoes meta-epidemiological synthesis. However, no instrument for appraising anatomical studies with inherent applicability to different study designs is available. We aim to develop a generic yet comprehensive tool for assessing the quality of anatomical studies using a formal consensus method.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

The study steering committee formulated an initial conceptual design and generated items for a preliminary tool on the basis of a literature review and expert opinion. A Delphi procedure was then adopted to assess the validity of the preliminary tool. Feedback from the Delphi panelists was used to improve it.

RESULTS:

The Delphi procedure involved 12 experts in anatomical research. It comprised two rounds, after which unanimous consensus was reached about the items to be included. The preliminary tool consisted of 20 items, which were phrased as signaling questions and organized into five domains: 1. Aim and subject characteristics, 2. Study design, 3. Characterization of methods, 4. Descriptive anatomy, and 5. Results reporting. Each domain was set to end with a risk of bias question. Following round 1, some of the items underwent major revision, although agreement was reached regarding inclusion of all the domains and signaling questions in the preliminary tool. The tool was revised only for minor language inaccuracies after round 2.

CONCLUSION:

The AQUA Tool was designed to assess the quality and reliability of anatomical studies. It is currently undergoing a validation process. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.