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Ann Emerg Med. 2001 Nov;38(5):518-26.

Evaluating the quality of systematic reviews in the emergency medicine literature.

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1
Division of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVE:

The objective of this study was to examine the scientific quality of systematic reviews published in 5 leading emergency medicine journals.

METHODS:

MEDLINE and EMBASE databases were electronically searched to identify published systematic reviews. Searches were only conducted in emergency medicine journals during the past 10 years; 4 of the journals were also hand searched. Potential reviews were assessed independently by 2 reviewers for inclusion. Data regarding methods were extracted from each review independently by 2 reviewers. All systematic reviews were retrieved and rated for quality by using the 10 questions from the overview quality assessment questionnaire.

RESULTS:

Twenty-nine reviews were identified from more than 100 citations. The overall scientific quality of the systematic reviews was low (mean score, 2.7; 95% confidence interval 2.1 to 3.2; maximum possible score, 7.0). Selection and publication biases were rarely addressed in this collection of reviews. For example, the search strategies were only identified in 9 (31%) reviews, whereas independent study selection (6 [21%]) and quality assessment of included studies (9 [31%]) were infrequently performed. Overall, the majority of reviews had extensive flaws, and only 3 (10%) had minimal flaws.

CONCLUSION:

The results of the study indicate that many of the systematic reviews published in the emergency medicine literature contain major flaws; reviews with poor methodology may limit the validity of reported results. Further efforts should be made to improve the design, reporting, and publication of systematic reviews in emergency medicine.

PMID:
11679863
DOI:
10.1067/mem.2001.115881
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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