Grading and assessment of clinical predictive tools for paediatric head injury: a new evidence-based approach

Mohamed Khalifa*, Blanca Gallego

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Many clinical predictive tools have been developed to diagnose traumatic brain injury among children and guide the use of computed tomography in the emergency department. It is not always feasible to compare tools due to the diversity of their development methodologies, clinical variables, target populations, and predictive performances. The objectives of this study are to grade and assess paediatric head injury predictive tools, using a new evidence-based approach, and to provide emergency clinicians with standardised objective information on predictive tools to support their search for and selection of effective tools. Methods: Paediatric head injury predictive tools were identified through a focused review of literature. Based on the critical appraisal of published evidence about predictive performance, usability, potential effect, and post-implementation impact, tools were evaluated using a new framework for grading and assessment of predictive tools (GRASP). A comprehensive analysis was conducted to explain why certain tools were more successful. Results: Fourteen tools were identified and evaluated. The highest-grade tool is PECARN; the only tool evaluated in post-implementation impact studies. PECARN and CHALICE were evaluated for their potential effect on healthcare, while the remaining 12 tools were only evaluated for predictive performance. Three tools; CATCH, NEXUS II, and Palchak, were externally validated. Three tools; Haydel, Atabaki, and Buchanich, were only internally validated. The remaining six tools; Da Dalt, Greenes, Klemetti, Quayle, Dietrich, and Güzel did not show sufficient internal validity for use in clinical practice. Conclusions: The GRASP framework provides clinicians with a high-level, evidence-based, comprehensive, yet simple and feasible approach to grade, compare, and select effective predictive tools. Comparing the three main tools which were assigned the highest grades; PECARN, CHALICE and CATCH, to the remaining 11, we find that the quality of tools' development studies, the experience and credibility of their authors, and the support by well-funded research programs were correlated with the tools' evidence-based assigned grades, and were more influential, than the sole high predictive performance, on the wide acceptance and successful implementation of the tools. Tools' simplicity and feasibility, in terms of resources needed, technical requirements, and training, are also crucial factors for their success.

Original languageEnglish
Article number35
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Clinical decision support
  • Clinical prediction
  • Emergency medicine
  • Evidence-based
  • Grading and assessment
  • Paediatric head injury


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