5 Key Steps to Perform Successful Systematic Reviews

Systematic reviews represent a fundamental part of evidence-based healthcare. In order to conduct successful systematic reviews, reviewers should follow the steps listed bellow.

  1. FORMULATING A CLEAR QUESTION

The problem which is to be reviewed must be presented as a clear and unambiguous question. The question could also be delivered in a free query-like form, but most of the time reviewers prefer it to be set as explicitly as possible.

  1. IDENTIFYING APPROPRIATE RESOURCES

There is an extensive and thorough search for current studies involved in the whole review process. In order to capture the most essential, relevant and useful publications, one must cover multiple sources; should go over an impressive amount of scientific and medical databases, and should go over tons of web pages on the Internet.

  1. EVALUATING TRIAL QUALITY

After selecting studies of an acceptable design, an in-depth assessment for the risk of different biases should be carried out to guarantee for adequate quality. This type of evaluation of interventions is expected to offer evidence from a wider range of study designs in order to confirm that the treatment is safe and will not put at risk the wellbeing of a study participant.

  1. SUMMARIZING THE EVIDENCE

The summary will be used as an indicator that shows, for instance, how many of the investigated individuals demonstrated negative associations, how many demonstrated positive associations, how many significant differences were found and so on. Such summarised data can be delivered either narratively and/or statistically (with numerical and graphical presentations).

  1. ANALYZING THE FINDINGS

Analysing and interpreting are intuitive processes and cannot be though as mechanical. Such investigation focuses on figuring out and finding a deeper meaning of what has been discovered until now. Is the treatment effective? Does it demonstrate high quality levels? Will the use of a drug have negative impact on patients? In order to provide answers to these and other questions, reviewers must focus on the findings and must inspect and interpret them.

All in all, reviewers must make a great variety of decisions when preparing a systematic review. Their careful preparation includes outlining the focus of the review (the question); selecting appropriate resources; assessing the quality of a trial; synthesising evidences and scrutinizing the findings in order to draw the most adequate conclusions.

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