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Chapter 2.
Methods

Overview

This report is based on a systematic review of key questions on the relationships between vitamin D [either 25(OH)D concentrations or supplements] or dietary calcium intake, and health outcomes. The methodologies employed in this evidence report generally follow the methods outlined in the AHRQ Methods Reference Guide for Effectiveness and Comparative Effectiveness Reviews (http://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/repFiles/2007_10DraftMethodsGuide.pdf). The initial questions identified by the federal sponsors of this report were refined with input from a Technical Expert Panel (TEP). This report does not make clinical or policy recommendations. The report is being made available to an IOM committee charged with updating vitamin D and calcium DRIs.

A description of roles and responsibilities of sponsoring federal agencies, AHRQ, the TEP and the EPC is included to clarify the relationships that support the process and ensure transparency and that the approach adhered to the highest standards of scientific integrity.

Because of the large number of abbreviations for unfamiliar terms are used, their explanations have been repeated whenever deemed necessary. A table of Abbreviations can be found after the references in page 316. We also provide a table with the latitudes of several major cities in Central and North America, right after the Abbreviations table, on page 320.

Sponsoring federal agencies

The sponsoring agencies were responsible for specifying the topic-specific task order requirements. They participated in a Kick-Off meeting with the EPC and the Task Order Officer (TOO) to facilitate a common understanding of the topic-specific work requirements, and responded to inquiries from the TOO if modifications to the work order were requested by the EPC. Any communication between the sponsoring agencies and the EPC occurred with oversight from the TOO.

Review by Federal sponsors was limited to comments on factual errors, requests for clarification, and consistency with the original contract task order. Comments on the scientific content of the report were not provided. In all cases, reviewer comments are advisory only and are not binding on the scientific authors of the final report.

AHRQ Task Order Officer (TOO)

The TOO was responsible for overseeing all aspects of this Task Order. The TOO served as the point person for all communication required between the sponsoring agencies, the EPC, and other AHRQ officials. The purpose of this communication was to facilitate a common understanding of the task order requirements among the sponsors, the TOO, and the EPC, resolve ambiguities and to allow the EPC to focus on the scientific issues and activities.

Technical Expert Panel (TEP)

The TEP is comprised of qualified experts including, but not limited to, individuals with knowledge of DRI decision making processes, vitamin D and calcium nutrition and biology across the life cycle, health outcomes of interest, and the methodology of conducting systematic reviews. The EPC worked closely with the TEP in the formative stages of the project on question



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