What is a systematic review?
Systematic reviews are the gold standard in reviewing. They aim to adopt a scientific approach to identifying and consolidating all of the available evidence relevant to a specific research question.
Systematic reviews should be carried out according to a predefined protocol that sets out the scope of the systematic review and provides the detailed methods that will be used to produce the review.
Key components of a systematic review include:
- A well-developed research question captured in detailed eligibility criteria (the “PICO”)
- Systematic and extensive searches to identify as much of the relevant published and unpublished literature as possible
- Study selection according to the predefined eligibility criteria (the “PICO”)
- Extraction of the data necessary to answer the review question
- Assessment of the risk of bias for included studies
- Synthesis of the evidence identified
- Presentation of the findings in an independent and impartial manner
- Discussion of the limitations of the evidence and of the review methods
Systematic reviews can evaluate a range of evidence; qualitative, quantitative or a combination of both. Appropriate methods of synthesis should be used for different types of evidence.
When do you need a systematic review?
- To address a specific research question on a intervention or service within its indicated population, for example to inform a health economic model
- To systematically review effects and safety, utilities, economic evaluations (e.g. cost-effectiveness) or resource use when submitting to NICE or other health technology agencies
- To investigate the burden of illness of a disease area
How can we help you?
We can help you to:
- Define your research question
- Develop a review protocol to ensure that the review will help you to answer the question
- Undertake extensive literature searches to ensure as many studies as possible relevant to the review question
- Assess the risk of bias of the individual trials and across the studies
- Extract the relevant data from each trial that is required to inform the review and any subsequent analyses
- Synthesise the outcome evidence either as a narrative or using meta-analysis
- Provide a detailed report write-up, according to the PRISMA reporting guidelines or in another format to suit your needs
- Provide the relevant text for your HTA submission within the main report or in the relevant HTA template