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Objectives: A comprehensive health technology assessment (HTA) enables a patient-centered assessment of the effectiveness, economic, ethical, socio-cultural, and legal issues of health technologies that takes context and implementation into account. A question is whether these various pieces of evidence need to be integrated, and if so, how that might be achieved. The objective of our study is to discuss the meaning of integration in the context of HTA and suggest how it may be achieved in a more structured way.
Methods: An analysis of the concept of integration in the context of HTA and a review of approaches that were adopted in the INTEGRATE-HTA project that may support integration.
Results: Current approaches to integration in HTA are mainly methods of commensuration, which are not optimally geared to support public deliberation. In contrast, articulating evaluative frameworks could be an important means of integration which allows for exploring how facts and values can be brought to bear on each other.
Conclusions: Integration is not something that only needs to be addressed at the end, but rather throughout an HTA, right from the start. Integration can be conceived as a matter of accounting for the relevance of empirical evidence in view of a commitment to a set of potentially conflicting values. Various elements of the INTEGRATE-HTA project, such as scoping and the development of logic models, can help to achieve integration in HTA.