About Systematic Reviews

When Would You Use a Systematic Review?

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Although there are numerous concerns about their validity, systematic reviews have proved to be very effective in synchronizing clinical practice and scientific evidence. Medical experts recommend researchers base their scientific evidence on systematic reviews with consistency. Fortunately, there are different types of systematic reviews that you can use to gather credible and relevant evidence. But why are systematic reviews important for evidence-based practice and when would you use them? This article talks about the importance of systematic reviews and when to use them.

What is a Systematic Review?

A systematic review is a review of scholarly studies using repeatable systematic methods to gather information and appraise it. It’s a type of amalgamation of evidence that formulates research questions. These questions can have either a broad or narrow scope, and help to identify and put together information relating directly to the systematic review question. Most systematic reviews are meant to critically analyze studies and put together findings either qualitatively or quantitatively.

This type of review will provide you with a conclusive summary of current evidence that’s germane to the research question. For instance, when you are making important decisions or policies related to medicine, you can rely on systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials to make the right decision without wasting time. Whether you are conducting a rapid systematic review or any other type of systematic review, you can make critical decisions faster and more cost-effectively than conducting new research.

Systematic reviews aim to identify, evaluate, and summarize the findings of all appropriate individual studies on specific issues hence making available evidence more accessible to policymakers and other stakeholders.

When to Use a Systematic Review

Researchers argue that systematic reviews are the right tools for gathering evidence to support critical decisions and policies. These reviews promote nominally biased and extremely informed decisions, especially in healthcare where critical decisions with far-reaching consequences must be made continuously. A systematic review becomes necessary when you want to confirm or disprove whether the current practice is based on germane evidence.

Before you make any critical decision or policy, you need to be sure that the evidence you are relying on is relevant to the research question at hand. You must evaluate and confirm the quality of your evidence. Otherwise, your policies and decisions will be easily objected to. Therefore, you need to do a systematic review of the existing literature to address all uncertainties and variations in practice that may exist.

Most of these variations exist because of contradictory evidence. Thankfully, a systematic review will help you address such conflicts. Another reason why you need to conduct a systematic review is to identify gaps and deficiencies in the existing evidence and practice. It’ll also help you to recognize the current trends in your field of study. A systematic review will also support and inform future studies in your field of study. In short, here are the main reasons why you need to do a systematic review:

  • Uncovering global evidence
  • Confirming current practices, addressing existing variations, and identifying new practices
  • Identifying and informing areas for future studies
  • Identifying and investigating conflicting outcomes
  • Producing statements to guide policies and decisions

Lastly, a systematic review employs explicit analytical techniques selected for the purpose of minimizing bias in order to provide reliable findings that will inform your decisions and policies. It follows an organized and pre-defined review process to ensure that the results are useful and reliable.  This systematic approach and well-defined format of presentation allow the provision of an exhaustive summary of existing evidence relevant to a given research question.

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