During the last years the significance of evaluation studies as well as the interest in adequate methods and approaches for evaluation has grown in medical informatics. In order to put this discussion into historical perspective of evaluation research, we conducted a systematic review on trends in evaluation research of information technology in health care from 1982 to 2002. The inventory is based on a systematic literature search in PubMed.
In the first step of our inventory, we concentrated on describing long-term developments in questions, approaches, setting, methods and criteria of IT evaluation studies as described in the abstracts of the identified 1.035 publications. We found some signs of a maturation of evaluation research in medical informatics. However, these findings are only based on study abstracts that do not give sufficient information to assess the quality of studies in more detail.
In a second step of our inventory, we are now looking at the quality of IT evaluation studies in health care, describing in more detail study design and assessing 10 quality indicators. For this second step, we analyse a randomized sample of 105 evaluation full papers in more detail. Besides more descriptive details on study design, the results will show whether IT evaluation studies are credible, and how their quality changed in the last 20 years. An interim analysis of the first 64 papers shows a stable quality of IT evaluation studies over the last 20 years.
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