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A systematic review attempts to collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question.The key characteristics of a systematic review are:
Grindlay D. Karantana A. Putting the ‘systematic’ into searching – tips and resources for search strategies in systematic reviews. Journal of Hand Surgery (European Volume) 2018;43(6):674–8.
Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions
Institute of Medicine Standards for Systematic Reviews
PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses)
Methods Guide for Effectiveness and Comparative Effectiveness Reviews (AHRQ)
Systematic Reviews: CRD's Guidance for Undertaking Reviews in Health Care
1 – 2 Preparation of protocol
3 – 8 Searches for published/unpublished studies
2 – 3 Pilot test of eligibility criteria
3 – 8 Inclusion assessments
3 Pilot test of ‘Risk of bias’ assessment
3 – 10 Validity assessments
3 Pilot test of data collection
3 – 10 Data collection
3 – 10 Data entry
5 – 11 Follow up of missing information
8 – 10 Analysis
1 – 11 Preparation of review report
12 – Keeping the review up-to-date
Source: Higgins JPT, Green S (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.1.0 [updated March 2011]. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2011. Available from www.cochrane-handbook.org.
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