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University of Washington Health Sciences Library

Basic Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice Resources

Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses

  • A Systematic Review is a literature review focused on a single question which tries to identify, appraise, select and synthesis all high quality research evidence relevant to that question. Systematic reviews use explicit methods to identify, select, and critically evaluate relevant research.
  • Meta-analyses are systematic reviews that combine the results of several studies using quantitative statistics.
  • Systematic reviews minimize the possibility of bias by using explicit criteria, and expand the relevance of individual studies with limited scope, but ...
  • Only a small number of clinical topics are covered by systematic reviews, because they require years of effort to develop.
  • Locate systematic reviews using:
    • Campbell Collaboration (C2)
      A full-text database of systematic reviews in education, crime and justice, social welfare and international development.
    • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR)
      Part of the Cochrane Library, the CDSR is a full-text database containing systematic reviews and protocols (reviews still in progress) of the effects of health care interventions; mainly randomized controlled trials. "Gold Standard" for high quality, systematic reviews.
    • Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE)
      Structured abstracts of good quality systematic reviews of the effects of health interventions from around the world. Complements CDSR by offering a selection of quality assessed reviews in subjects with no Cochrane review. Also part of the Cochrane Library.
    • PubMed Systematic Reviews
      Part of PubMed Clinical Queries linked from the PubMed front page or Advanced Search page: Systematic Reviews combines your search term(s) with citations identified as systematic reviews, meta-analyses, reviews of clinical trials, evidence-based medicine, consensus development conferences, and guidelines. No evaluation of comparative quality of different reviews on a topic.
    • PubMed | Search Tips
      Hint: you can limit to Article Types: Systematic Reviews or Meta-Analysis
    • CINAHL Plus | Search Tips
      Hint: You can limit with Publication Type: Systematic Review. You can also use the subject heading Meta Analysis.
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