While carrying out a scoping review of earthquake response, we found that there is no universal standardized approach for assessing the quality of disaster evidence, much of which is variable or not peer reviewed. With the lack of a framework to ascertain the value and validity of this literature, there is a danger that valuable insights may be lost. We propose a theoretical framework that may, with further validation, address this gap.
Existing frameworks – quality of reporting of meta-analyses (QUORUM), meta-analysis of observational studies in epidemiology (MOOSE), the Cochrane assessment of bias, Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) checklists, strengthening the reporting of observation studies in epidemiology (STROBE), and consensus guidelines on reports of field interventions in disasters and emergencies (CONFIDE)–were analyzed to identify key domains of quality. Supporting statements, based on these existing frameworks were developed for each domain to form an overall theoretical framework of quality. This was piloted on a data set of publications from a separate scoping review.
Four domains of quality were identified: robustness, generalizability, added value, and ethics with 11 scored, supporting statements. Although 73 out of 111 papers (66%) scored below 70%, a sizeable portion (34%) scored higher.
Our theoretical framework presents, for debate and further validation, a method of assessing the quality of non-traditional studies and thus supporting the best available evidence approach to disaster response. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2019;13:147–151)