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Reference: Moher, D, Tetzlaff, J, Tricco, AC et al., (2007). Epidemiology and reporting characteristics of systematic reviews. PLoS medicine, 4 (3), Article: e78.Citable link to this page:

 

Epidemiology and reporting characteristics of systematic reviews.

Abstract: BACKGROUND: Systematic reviews (SRs) have become increasingly popular to a wide range of stakeholders. We set out to capture a representative cross-sectional sample of published SRs and examine them in terms of a broad range of epidemiological, descriptive, and reporting characteristics, including emerging aspects not previously examined. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We searched Medline for SRs indexed during November 2004 and written in English. Citations were screened and those meeting our inclusion criteria were retained. Data were collected using a 51-item data collection form designed to assess the epidemiological and reporting details and the bias-related aspects of the reviews. The data were analyzed descriptively. In total 300 SRs were identified, suggesting a current annual publication rate of about 2,500, involving more than 33,700 separate studies including one-third of a million participants. The majority (272 [90.7%]) of SRs were reported in specialty journals. Most reviews (213 [71.0%]) were categorized as therapeutic, and included a median of 16 studies involving 1,112 participants. Funding sources were not reported in more than one-third (122 [40.7%]) of the reviews. Reviews typically searched a median of three electronic databases and two other sources, although only about two-thirds (208 [69.3%]) of them reported the years searched. Most (197/295 [66.8%]) reviews reported information about quality assessment, while few (68/294 [23.1%]) reported assessing for publication bias. A little over half (161/300 [53.7%]) of the SRs reported combining their results statistically, of which most (147/161 [91.3%]) assessed for consistency across studies. Few (53 [17.7%]) SRs reported being updates of previously completed reviews. No review had a registration number. Only half (150 [50.0%]) of the reviews used the term systematic review or meta-analysis in the title or abstract. There were large differences between Cochrane reviews and non-Cochrane reviews in the quality of reporting several characteristics. CONCLUSIONS: SRs are now produced in large numbers, and our data suggest that the quality of their reporting is inconsistent. This situation might be improved if more widely agreed upon evidence-based reporting guidelines were endorsed and adhered to by authors and journals. These results substantiate the view that readers should not accept SRs uncritically.

Peer Review status:Peer reviewedPublication status:PublishedVersion:Publisher's version Funder: National Institutes of Health   Funder: Canadian Institutes of Health Research   Funder: Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health   Notes:© 2007 Moher et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Bibliographic Details

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Publisher Website: http://www.plos.org/

Journal: PLoS medicinesee more from them

Publication Website: http://www.plosmedicine.org/

Issue Date: 2007-3

pages:Article: e78Identifiers

Urn: uuid:c93e9733-9273-46c8-9429-ebe4ae74c6d6

Source identifier: 317989

Eissn: 1549-1676

Doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040078

Issn: 1549-1277 Item Description

Type: Journal article;

Language: eng

Version: Publisher's versionKeywords: Humans Bias (Epidemiology) Evidence-Based Medicine Periodicals as Topic Review Literature as Topic Biomedical Research Health Services Research Research Design Outcome Assessment (Health Care) Epidemiology Health Services Tiny URL: pubs:317989

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Author: Moher, D - - - Tetzlaff, J - - - Tricco, AC - - - Sampson, M - - - Altman, DG - institutionUniversity of Oxford fundingCancer Res

Source: https://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:c93e9733-9273-46c8-9429-ebe4ae74c6d6



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