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Ann Intern Med. 1999 Dec 21;131(12):947-51.

The medical review article revisited: has the science improved?

Author information

  • 1University of Oxford, United Kingdom. Finlay.McAlister@ualberta.ca

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The validity of a review depends on its methodologic quality.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine the methodologic quality of recently published review articles.

DESIGN:

Critical appraisal.

SETTING:

All reviews of clinical topics published in six general medical journals in 1996.

MEASUREMENTS:

Explicit criteria that have been published and validated were used.

RESULTS:

Of 158 review articles, only 2 satisfied all 10 methodologic criteria (median number of criteria satisfied, 1). Less than a quarter of the articles described how evidence was identified, evaluated, or integrated; 34% addressed a focused clinical question; and 39% identified gaps in existing knowledge. Of the 111 reviews that made treatment recommendations, 48% provided an estimate of the magnitude of potential benefits (and 34%, the potential adverse effects) of the treatment options, 45% cited randomized clinical trials to support their recommendations, and only 6% made any reference to costs.

CONCLUSIONS:

The methodologic quality of clinical review articles is highly variable, and many of these articles do not specify systematic methods.

PMID:
10610646
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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