(Illustration: Key Concepts poster for secondary school. For download link, see “Posters” below)

Claims, comparisons, choices

What knowledge and skills do people need in order to be able to assess the trustworthiness of claims about treatments and make informed health choices? We have developed a list of 44 Key Concepts that make up a framework of what people need to understand and be able to apply. The concepts are organised in three groups, to help people:

1. Recognise when a claim about the effects of treatments has an untrustworthy basis
2. Recognise when evidence from comparisons of treatments is trustworthy and when it is not
3. Make well-informed choices about treatments

This grouping does not reflect the difficulty of the concepts or the order in which they should be learned.

Using these universally relevant concepts as a starting point, we develop targeted learning resources to teach people in different settings to understand and apply them. But the list of Key Concepts itself is not meant to be a learning resource (so some parts may be unfamiliar and difficult to understand). Rather, the list provides a framework or starting point for teachers, journalists and other intermediaries who are identifying learning resources (such as longer explanations, examples, games and interactive applications) or, like ourselves, developing new learning resources.

– Key Concepts 2018 (most current version, PDF) |  Translation: Spanish


Developing the Key Concepts

Read a description of the Key Concepts and how they were developed. The first version of the Key Concepts list was published in 2015 and has been updated yearly since then. Earlier versions of the Key Concepts: 2017 version,  2016 version,  2015 version


Relevant across many fields

Although we have developed and framed the Key Concepts to address health treatment claims, people in other fields have also found them relevant. Work to adapt these concepts to apply to interventions in other fields is ongoing, including educational, environmental, agricultural, economic, international development, management, nutrition, planetary health, policing, social welfare, speech and language therapy, and veterinary interventions. Read our article published in Nature: Key concepts for making informed choices.


Web sites, posters, blogs and other resources

All of the Informed Health Choices learning resources are based on and created to teach the Key Concepts. But some resources list and describe the Key Concepts directly.

Web sites

– Thatsaclaim.org – A framework for thinking critically about claims, evidence, and choices 
On this web site the Key Concepts are adapted to 14 different domains: educational, environmental, agricultural, economic, health, international development, management, nutrition, planetary health, policing, social welfare, speech and language therapy, and veterinary interventions.

– Thatsaclaim.org – Health for primary school

– Thatsaclaim.org – Health


– Key Concepts poster for primary school

– Key Concepts poster for secondary school


Students 4 Best Evidence believe these Key Concepts are vital to help them think critically about the treatment claims they’re exposed to daily and were keen to raise awareness of them. As such, a group of over 10 students has prepared a series of 34 blogposts, one to explain and elaborate upon each of the Key Concepts in the 2016 version. Other teams are translating the blog series to Portuguese, German, Spanish, Croatian and Dutch. We will link to these translations when they are completed.

Other learning resources for teaching the IHC Key Concepts can be found in the Critical thinking and Appraisal Resource Library (CARL).


See our Primary school resources