Objectives: This study investigates the use of information graphics to display the outputs of health technology assessment (HTA) in the United Kingdom and proposes a more structured approach founded in an analysis of the decision-making requirements of the key stakeholders.
Methods: A scoping review of HTA reports was conducted to investigate current practice in the use of information graphics in HTA literature. A classification framework using dimensions of report section, graphical type, and originating research center was devised and used for a full content analysis of the graphical figures in the fifty most recent reports produced for the UK National Health Service's HTA process.
Results: Our survey shows that graphical tools are used extensively in HTA reports although less frequently than tables. Use of information graphics varies widely between different report sections and tends to follow conventional lines with little evidence of variance from established practice. The largest variance was found between the quantities of graphics used by different research centers responsible for authoring the reports.
Conclusions: HTA makes extensive use of graphics; however, there is little evidence of a systematic or standardized approach, or of much innovation. Significant potential exists to explore the application of information graphics in this field, but there are many research challenges. A contextually based, structured approach to the design of effective information graphics in HTA is proposed as a basis both to investigate the application of existing graphical tools in HTA, and to explore the considerable scope for innovation.