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J Clin Epidemiol. 2011 Nov;64(11):1208-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2011.03.011. Epub 2011 Jun 17.

Updating comparative effectiveness reviews: current efforts in AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program.

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  • 1University of Ottawa Evidence-Based Practice Center, Clinical Epidemiology Methods Centre, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1H 8L6.



To review the current knowledge and efforts on updating systematic reviews (SRs) as applied to comparative effectiveness reviews (CERs).


This article outlines considerations for updating CERs by including a definition of the updating process, describing issues around assessing whether to update, and providing general guidelines for the update process. Key points to consider include (1) identifying when to update CERs, (2) how to update CERs, and (3) how to present, report, and interpret updated results in CERs.


Currently, there is little information about what proportion of SRs needs updating. Similarly, there is no consensus on when to initiate updating and how best to carry it out.


CERs need to be regularly updated as new evidence is produced. Lack of attention to updating may lead to outdated and sometimes misleading conclusions that compromise health care and policy decisions. The article outlines several specific goals for future research, one of them being the development of efficient guideline for updating CERs applicable across evidence-based practice centers.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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