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The taxonomy of decisions related to COVID-19 was initially developed by McMaster Health Forum staff in several phases:

  1. drawing on existing taxonomies to provide the overall structure of the taxonomy (e.g., Health Evidence for public-health decisions, McMaster PLUS for clinical decisions, Health Systems Evidence for decisions about health-system arrangements, and Social Systems Evidence for decisions about economic and social responses)
  2. iteratively adjusting the taxonomy based on insights gained from reviewing COVID-END’s guide to evidence sources about COVID-19, other groups’ taxonomies (e.g., Evidence Aid), and other relevant documents (e.g., guide prepared by the B.C. COVID-19 Strategic Research Advisory Committee).

The next phases in the taxonomy’s development will involve:

  1. iteratively adjusting the taxonomy based on the input from COVID-END’s secretariat members Jeremy Grimshaw and David Tovey
  2. pilot-testing the list with experts in each of the four major types of decisions
  3. pilot testing the list with decision-makers and those supporting them
  4. continuing to identify taxonomies, sub-taxonomies and existing evidence sources that flesh out missing details
  5. regularly reviewing the work being done by horizon-scanning groups to identify the broad range of potential future decisions that will be faced as the pandemic and the pandemic response enter (or re-enter) different phases.

The taxonomy can be powerfully complemented by three additional taxonomies (which are described on the context webpage):

  1. populations
  2. outcomes
  3. types of information that would be helpful to inform these decisions.

The taxonomy should be distinguished from a taxonomy of the many research questions that need to be answered ‘behind-the-scenes’ so the answers can become embedded into the evidence needed for decision-making. Many of the evidence maps about COVID-19 research are focused on research questions and they include categories like etiology that is key background knowledge, categories like diagnosis and prognosis that may contain both background knowledge (e.g. potential biomarkers that are being explored) and research evidence that is already usable by decision-makers, and categories like public-health measures and clinical management that are largely focused on usable research evidence that is already usable by decision-makers.

Please send suggestions for how to improve the taxonomy to

Search our guide to key
COVID-19 evidence sources