Systematic Reviews of Health Research

Topics: Evidence-based medicine, Randomized controlled trial, Peer review Pages: 23 (7019 words) Published: January 29, 2012
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Page 58 Systematic review: 2 multiple choice questionnaire Page 59 Read Amy Causey’s practice profile on total hip replacement Page 60 Guidelines on how to write a practice profile

Learning how to undertake a systematic review: part 2
NS557 Bettany-Saltikov J (2010) Learning how to undertake a systematic review: part 2. Nursing Standard. 24, 51, 47-56. Date of acceptance: February 8 2010.

This article, the second in a two-part series, continues to describe the stages involved in conducting a systematic review. The article discusses how to select and appraise studies for inclusion in the review, and how to extract, synthesise and present the findings. A summary of the key points for writing the results and discussion sections of a report of a systematic review is also presented.

4Select and appraise studies for inclusion in the review. 4Extract relevant information from the research articles. 4Demonstrate a basic understanding of how to synthesise and present the findings. 4Understand how to structure the discussion that results from the systematic review.

Josette Bettany-Saltikov, senior lecturer in research methods, School of Health and Social Care, University of Teesside, Middlesbrough. Email:

The first of these two articles discussed the importance of writing the protocol for a systematic review. It also explained how to formulate a review question and set out the background, objectives and inclusion and exclusion criteria for a review. This article continues by illustrating how to formulate a search strategy and critically appraise the results of a literature search. These processes should be described in the review protocol before the actual search is conducted in order to minimise bias. The time outs in this article will assist in completing the protocol. In conducting a successful unbiased systematic review it is important to access as many relevant studies as possible. This may involve searching a wide variety of databases and internet search engines as well as hand searching, which involves ‘a manual page-by-page examination of the entire contents of a journal issue to identify all eligible reports of trials, whether they appear in articles, abstracts, news columns, editorials, letters or other text’ (The Cochrane Collaboration 2009). Inclusion and exclusion criteria must be established because these will determine the focus and limits of the review. august 25 :: vol 24 no 51 :: 2010 47

Research methodology, systematic review These keywords are based on subject headings from the British Nursing Index. All articles are subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software. For author and research article guidelines visit the Nursing Standard home page at For related articles visit our online archive and search using the keywords.

Aims and intended learning outcomes
This article, the second in a two-part series, aims to provide an overview of the stages involved in conducting a systematic review, focusing on selecting and appraising articles for inclusion and the presentation of data and findings. It is assumed that readers have a basic understanding of research terminology and the skills necessary to critically appraise a review. After reading this article and completing the time out activities you should be able to: 4Know how to undertake a comprehensive and systematic search strategy. NURSING STANDARD

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Systematic search strategy
The aim of the literature search is to generate a comprehensive list of primary studies – published and unpublished – which may be suitable for answering the proposed research question. This is a crucial part of the review, because the validity (truthfulness) of the review results is directly related to the thoroughness of the search and its...
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