15.4.1  Assessing relevance to the review topic

Once full-text papers of potentially relevant health economics studies have been obtained (and structured abstracts of full economic evaluations, where available), the next step is to assess the relevance of each of these studies to the specific review topic, as a preliminary stage to addressing the issue of risk of bias. Decisions to either include or exclude health economics studies on grounds of relevance should be based on whether or not they meet eligibility criteria relating to the target populations, interventions, comparisons and outcomes that were specified in the protocol for the review. Reasons for excluding health economics studies at this stage should be reported in ‘Characteristics of excluded studies’ tables.