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Keywords:

  • adverse drug reaction;
  • algorithm;
  • causality assessment;
  • global introspection;
  • pharmacovigilance

Summary

Objectives:  To evaluate agreement between causality assessments of reported adverse drug reactions (ADRs) obtained from decisional algorithms, with those obtained from an expert panel using the WHO global introspection method (GI), according to different levels of imputability and to evaluate the influence of confounding variables.

Method:  Two hundred reports were included in this study. An independent researcher used decisional algorithms, while an expert panel assessed the same ADR reports using the GI, both aimed at evaluating causality. Reports were divided according to the presence, absence or lack of information on confounding variables.

Results:  The rates of concordance between assessments made using the algorithms and GI according to levels of imputability were: 45% for ‘certain’, 61% for ‘probable’, 46% for ‘possible’ and 17% for drug unrelated terms. When confounding variables were taken into account, the rates of concordance for the ‘absence of information’, ‘lack of information’ and ‘presence of confounding variables’ in the ‘certain’ group were 49, 69 and 7%, respectively. The corresponding values for the ‘probable’ group were 80, 68 and 24% and 30, 51 and 51%, respectively for the ‘possible’ group.

Conclusion:  Full agreement with global introspection was not found for any level of causality assessment. Confounding variables were found to be associated with low levels of agreement between decision algorithms and the GI method compromising the algorithms' sensitivity and specificity.