Guidelines for Accurate and Transparent Health Estimates Reporting: the GATHER statement03/08/2016
On June 28th, the Guidelines for Accurate and Transparent Health Estimates Reporting (GATHER) were published. GATHER is a set of guidelines on reporting of health estimates, such as estimates of child mortality, the mortality rate from road traffic injuries, or the prevalence of hypertension. It covers studies that combine data sources to make estimates for multiple populations (in time or space). GATHER was developed by a working group convened by the World Health Organization (WHO). Research reported in alignment with GATHER will provide key information that allows scientists and decision-makers to evaluate its quality. Detailed explanations of methods will potentially enable researchers around the world to build upon published studies to advance the science of health estimation.
Data on key health indicators are not available for every year and population of interest. Yet for many of the indicators with incomplete data availability, WHO, other UN agencies and academics publish global estimates that include estimates for all countries. Estimates for countries without sufficient quality data are calculated using statistical models to make optimal use of lower-quality or incomparable data and to make estimates for countries and years without data. In some cases, communication of methods and data has been insufficient for users—including other experts on health estimates—to understand how estimates were calculated.
To respond to this challenge, WHO convened the GATHER working group in 2014. The GATHER guidelines will accelerate the science of population health measurement by promoting open access to data and code. GATHER requires that authors report comprehensive information about each data source used, including key characteristics of the data source and the measurement value, in machine-readable format. Disclosure of data used, including information about its quality, is expected to increase the transparency and credibility of health estimates. GATHER also requires that authors state how source code can be accessed. Together with detailed explanations of methods required by GATHER, this comprehensive level of reporting will enable researchers around the world to potentially reproduce studies and make further advances.