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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 191809, 9 pages
Research Article

Using Multicriteria Decision Analysis to Support Research Priority Setting in Biomedical Translational Research Projects

Department of Epidemiology, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, 9700 RB Groningen, Netherlands

Received 20 March 2015; Revised 14 May 2015; Accepted 17 May 2015

Academic Editor: Giuseppe Biondi-Zoccai

Copyright © 2015 Gimon de Graaf et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Translational research is conducted to achieve a predefined set of economic or societal goals. As a result, investment decisions on where available resources have the highest potential in achieving these goals have to be made. In this paper, we first describe how multicriteria decision analysis can assist in defining the decision context and in ensuring that all relevant aspects of the decision problem are incorporated in the decision making process. We then present the results of a case study to support priority setting in a translational research consortium aimed at reducing the burden of disease of type 2 diabetes. During problem structuring, we identified four research alternatives (primary, secondary, tertiary microvascular, and tertiary macrovascular prevention) and a set of six decision criteria. Scoring of these alternatives against the criteria was done using a combination of expert judgement and previously published data. Lastly, decision analysis was performed using stochastic multicriteria acceptability analysis, which allows for the combined use of numerical and ordinal data. We found that the development of novel techniques applied in secondary prevention would be a poor investment of research funds. The ranking of the remaining alternatives was however strongly dependent on the decision maker’s preferences for certain criteria.