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Multi-criteria Decision Analysis Software in Healthcare Priority Setting: A Systematic Review



The objectives of this systematic review were to identify studies using Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) software tools to support health prioritisation processes and describe the technical capabilities of the MCDA software tools identified.


First, a systematic literature review was conducted in the MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, EconLit and Cochrane databases in July 2019 to identify studies that have used MCDA software for priority setting in health-related problems. Second, the MCDA software tools found in the review were downloaded (full versions, where freely available, and trial versions otherwise) and tested to extract their key technical characteristics.


Nine studies were included, from which seven different software tools, 1000minds®, M-MACBETH, Socio Technical Allocation of Resources (STAR), Strategic Multi-Attribute Ranking Tool (SMART), Visual PROMETHEE, EVIDEM and the Prioritisation Framework, were identified. These software tools differed in terms of the operating systems (including web interface), MCDA technique(s) available for use, visualisation features, and the capability to perform Value for Money (VfM) and sensitivity analyses.


The use of MCDA software in prioritisation processes has a number of advantages such as inclusion of several types of stakeholders and the ability to analyse a greater number of alternatives and criteria and perform real-time sensitivity analyses. Proprietary software (i.e. software with licensing fees) seemed to have more features than freely available software. However, this field is still developing, with only a few studies where MCDA software was used to support health priority setting and opportunity costs not explicitly captured in many software tools.

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Availability of Data and Materials

All data analysed or generated during this study are included in this article.


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The authors would like to acknowledge all of those who contributed to this work.


The manuscript was developed in a doctoral internship funded by the Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation of Colombia (COLCIENCIAS, Bogotá, Colombia), grant number 617.

Author contributions

The original idea and structure of the manuscript were developed by PT and AM. The development of the systematic review was done by AM and TT. AM drafted the manuscript and it was reviewed by PT and TT. All authors contributed to the multiple iterations of the manuscript.

Conflict of interest

Alexander Moreno is a PhD candidate at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia. He received a doctoral grant; however, he has no conflicts of interest. Thaison Tong is a Research Associate in Health Economics and Decision Sciences at the School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. He has no financial or non-financial conflicts. Praveen Thokala is a Senior Research Fellow in Health Economics and Decision Sciences at the School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield. He has no financial or non-financial conflicts.

Author information

Correspondence to Alexander Moreno-Calderón.



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Moreno-Calderón, A., Tong, T.S. & Thokala, P. Multi-criteria Decision Analysis Software in Healthcare Priority Setting: A Systematic Review. PharmacoEconomics 38, 269–283 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40273-019-00863-9

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