Systematic Review

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  • Systematic and extensive searches to identify as much of the relevant published and unpublished literature as possible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 drug 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 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (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 and the network meta-analysis (NMA) are identified
  • 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 or NMA
  • 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 health technology assessment (HTA) submission within the main report or in the relevant HTA template


Contact us today if you would like to enquire about this service