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J Clin Epidemiol. 2013 Feb;66(2):151-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2012.01.006. Epub 2012 Apr 27.

GRADE guidelines: 11. Making an overall rating of confidence in effect estimates for a single outcome and for all outcomes.

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Departments of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8N 3Z5, Canada.


GRADE requires guideline developers to make an overall rating of confidence in estimates of effect (quality of evidence-high, moderate, low, or very low) for each important or critical outcome. GRADE suggests, for each outcome, the initial separate consideration of five domains of reasons for rating down the confidence in effect estimates, thereby allowing systematic review authors and guideline developers to arrive at an outcome-specific rating of confidence. Although this rating system represents discrete steps on an ordinal scale, it is helpful to view confidence in estimates as a continuum, and the final rating of confidence may differ from that suggested by separate consideration of each domain. An overall rating of confidence in estimates of effect is only relevant in settings when recommendations are being made. In general, it is based on the critical outcome that provides the lowest confidence.

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