Skip to main content Accessibility help

Multi-source synthesis of data to inform health policy

  • Vibe Hjelholt Pedersen (a1), Pierre Dagenais (a2) and Pascale Lehoux (a3)


Objectives: To propose a new method for comparing and integrating original qualitative data with systematic reviews of quantitative and qualitative studies, demonstrated by a study of the psychosocial needs of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) sufferers in Québec.

Methods: A systematic literature review was performed across various databases for English and French language studies, on the psychosocial aspects of CFS. Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method studies published between January 1994 and July 2008 were included. Unpublished literature and reference lists of included studies were also searched. Themes identified in the literature were used to guide semi-structured interviews with seventeen CFS-sufferers, mostly recruited from a large specialist practice in Montreal. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and validated by a research assistant. Transcripts were coded using the identified themes. New codes were created when new issues arose. All themes were subsequently synthesized into overall categories using a constant comparative method.

Results: The literature search yielded thirty-one papers: twenty-eight primary studies and three systematic reviews. Twelve themes were identified and synthesized into four overall problem categories, such as “Lack of professional recognition.” Interviews confirmed findings from the literature, but also revealed unidentified needs specific to CFS-sufferers in Québec. Policy recommendations were provided to address these needs.

Conclusions: Multi-Source Synthesis provides a systematic method for synthesizing data from original studies with literature findings, thereby broadening the knowledge base and the local relevance of decisions concerning specific patient populations.



Hide All
1. Ax, S, Gregg, VH, Jones, D. Coping and illness cognitions: Chronic fatigue syndrome. Clin Psychol Rev. 2001;21:161182.
2. Baxter, S, Killoran, A, Kelly, MP, Goyder, E. Synthesizing diverse evidence: The use of primary qualitative data analysis methods and logic models in public health reviews. Public Health. 2010;124:99106.
3. Dixon-Woods, M, Agarwal, S, Jones, D, Young, B, Sutton, A. Synthesising qualitative and quantitative evidence: A review of possible methods. J Health Serv Res Policy. 2005;10:4553.
4. Droste, S, Dintsios, CM, Gerber, A. Information on ethical issues in health technology assessment: How and where to find them. Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2010;26:441449.
5. Fukuda, K, Straus, SE, Hickie, I, et al. The chronic fatigue syndrome: A comprehensive approach to its definition and study. International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Study Group. Ann Intern Med. 1994;121:953959.
6. Gilje, AM, Soderlund, A, Malterud, K. Obstructions for quality care experienced by patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)—A case study. Patient Educ Couns. 2008;73:3641.
7. Institute for Public Health Sciences. 11 questions to help you make sense of descriptive/cross-sectional studies. New York, NY: Yeshiva University; 2002.
8. Johri, M, Lehoux, P. The great escape? Prospects for regulating access to technology through health technology assessment. Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2003;19:179193.
9. Komaroff, AL, Fagioli, LR, Doolittle, TH, et al. Health status in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and in general population and disease comparison groups. Am J Med. 1996;101:281290.
10. Kristensen, FB, Sigmund, H. Health technology assessment handbook. Copenhagen, Denmark: Danish Centre for Health Technology Assessment (DACEHTA); 2008;7883.
11. Larun, L, Malterud, K. Identity and coping experiences in chronic fatigue syndrome: A synthesis of qualitative studies. Patient Educ Couns. 2007;69:2028.
12. Lehoux, P, Williams-Jones, B. Mapping the integration of social and ethical issues in health technology assessment. Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2007;23:916.
13. Leys, M. Health technology assessment: The contribution of qualitative research. Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2003;19:317329.
14. Marston, C, King, E. Factors that shape young people's sexual behaviour: A systematic review. Lancet. 2006;368:15811586.
15. Mays, N, Pope, C. Qualitative research in health care. Assessing quality in qualitative research. BMJ. 2000;320:5052.
16. Moher, D, Liberati, A, Tetzlaff, J, Altman, DG. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: The PRISMA statement. PLoS Med. 2009;6:e1000097.
17. Noblit, GW, Hare, RD. Meta-ethnography: Synthesizing qualitative studies. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications; 1988.
18. Pedersen, VH. Care and support needs of people with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis in Québec. Montréal, Qc: Agence d'évaluation des technologies et des modes d'intervention en santé (AETMIS); 2010.
19. Pope, C, Mays, N. Reaching the parts other methods cannot reach: An introduction to qualitative methods in health and health services research. BMJ. 1995;311:4245.
20. Public Health Resource Unit. Critical appraisal skills programme [Web site]. Oxford, United Kingdom: Solutions for Public Health; 2006.
21. Ross, SD, Estok, RP, Frame, D, et al. Disability and chronic fatigue syndrome: A focus on function. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164:10981107.
22. Sandelowski, M, Trimble, F, Woodard, EK, Barroso, J. From synthesis to script: Transforming qualitative research findings for use in practice. Qual Health Res. 2006;16:13501370.
23. Thomas, J, Harden, A. Methods for the thematic synthesis of qualitative research in systematic reviews. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2008;8:45.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care
  • ISSN: 0266-4623
  • EISSN: 1471-6348
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-technology-assessment-in-health-care
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Pedersen supplementary material
Supplementary data

 Word (41 KB)
41 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed