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Systematic Review

A systematic review is a research study that collects and looks at multiple studies. Researchers use methods that are determined before they begin to frame one or more questions, then find and analyze the studies that relate to that question.

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(Source: Wikipedia)

Image of data from multiple studies summarized in a meta-analysis Click to enlarge

A forest plot from a meta-analysis of 11 studies: a line shows the result of each study, ending with a diamond showing the results combined U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

About Systematic Reviews of Effects of Treatments

Individual studies are often not big and powerful enough to provide reliable answers on their own. Or several studies on the effects of a treatment might come to different conclusions. In order to find reliable answers to research questions, you therefore have to look at all of the studies and analyze their results together.

Systematic reviews summarize the results of all the studies on a medical treatment and assess the quality of the studies. The analysis is done following a specific, methodologically sound process. In a way, it's a "study of studies." Good systematic reviews can provide a reliable overview of the current knowledge in a certain area.

They are normally done by teams of authors working together. The authors are usually specialists with backgrounds in medicine, epidemiology, medical statistics and research...
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Articles on this research topic

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Systematizing the Use of Value of Information Analysis in Prioritizing Systematic Reviews [Internet]

As a means to inform clinical and health policy decisions, systematic reviews are inexpensive relative to clinical trials and other (observational) studies but are costly enough that not all possible systematic reviews can be performed. Value of information (VOI) analysis has been considered as a tool to help prioritize topics for systematic review. Since VOI analysis typically involves constructing a complex decision-analytic model of the disease and its treatment to fully characterize the uncertainty in the health outcomes and costs of the treatments or other health interventions being studied, the standard approach to VOI may be prohibitively costly for use in prioritizing systematic reviews. As alternatives to typical full modeling VOI, three newer approaches to analyzing the value of information can be identified that are less burdensome: (1) In a conceptual approach to VOI, information is used about multiplicative elements of VOI, which include comprehensive outcome measures and the implementation and durability of review findings, to provide informative bounds on value of research without formally quantifying this through modeling. (2) In a minimal modeling approach to VOI, which is possible when data on comprehensive outcome measures, such as quality-adjusted life-years or net benefit, are readily available from existing research, VOI can be estimated without constructing a complex model. (3) In a maximal modeling approach to VOI, a single comprehensive model may be constructed to simultaneously inform priorities concerning multiple clinical questions. The presence of these lower cost VOI methods creates the possibility for VOI analysis to be practically applied in priority-setting process for systematic reviews, and raises questions about how the use of VOI can be systematized.

Developing and Testing a Tool for the Classification of Study Designs in Systematic Reviews of Interventions and Exposures [Internet]

Classification of study design can help provide a common language for researchers. Within a systematic review, definition of specific study designs can help guide inclusion, assess the risk of bias, pool studies, interpret results, and grade the body of evidence. However, recent research demonstrated poor reliability for an existing classification scheme.

Development of DEMQOL-U and DEMQOL-PROXY-U: generation of preference-based indices from DEMQOL and DEMQOL-PROXY for use in economic evaluation

This study has developed dementia specific preference based measures for use in economic evaluation. The DEMQOL instruments can be used alongside a generic preference based measure such as the EQ-5D in future studies of interventions in dementia.

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Terms to know

Forest Plot
A forest plot, also known as a blobbogram, is a graphical display of estimated results from a number of scien...
Meta-Analysis
A process that analyzes data from different studies done about the same subject. The results of a meta-analys...

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