BACKGROUND: Regulatory guidelines require that any new medicine designed for a pediatric population must be demonstrated as being acceptable to that population. There is currently no guidance on how to conduct or report on acceptability testing.
AIM: Our objective was to undertake a review of the methods used to assess the acceptability of medicines within a pediatric population and use this review to propose the most appropriate methodology.
METHODS: We used a defined search strategy to identify literature reports of acceptability assessments of medicines conducted within pediatric populations and extracted information about the tools used in these studies for comparison across studies.
RESULTS: In total, 61 articles were included in the analysis. Palatability was the most common (54/61) attribute measured when evaluating acceptability. Simple scale methods were most commonly used, with visual analog scales (VAS) and hedonic scales used both separately and in combination in 34 of the 61 studies. Hedonic scales alone were used in 14 studies and VAS alone in just five studies. Other tools included Likert scales; forced choice or preference; surveys or questionnaires; observations of facial expressions during administration, ease of swallowing, or ability to swallow the dosage; prevalence of complaints or refusal to take the medicine; and time taken for a nurse to administer the medicine.
CONCLUSIONS: The best scale in terms of validity, reliability, feasibility, and preference to use when assessing acceptability remains unclear. Further work is required to select the most appropriate method to justify whether a medicine is acceptable to a pediatric population.