Conducting a Systematic Review: A Practical Guide
It can be challenging to conduct a systematic review with limited experience and skills in undertaking such a task. This chapter provides a practical guide to undertaking a systematic review, providing step-by-step instructions to guide the individual through the process from start to finish. The chapter begins with defining what a systematic review is, reviewing its various components, turning a research question into a search strategy, developing a systematic review protocol, followed by searching for relevant literature and managing citations. Next, the chapter focuses on documenting the characteristics of included studies and summarizing findings, extracting data, methods for assessing risk of bias and considering heterogeneity, and undertaking meta-analyses. Last, the chapter explores creating a narrative and interpreting findings. Practical tips and examples from existing literature are utilized throughout the chapter to assist readers in their learning. By the end of this chapter, the reader will have the knowledge to conduct their own systematic review.
KeywordsSystematic review Search strategy Risk of bias Heterogeneity Meta-analysis Forest plot Funnel plot Meta-synthesis
- Greenhalgh T. How to read a paper: the basics of evidence-based medicine. 4th ed. Chichester/Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell; 2010.Google Scholar
- Higgins JPT, Green S. Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions (Version 5.1.0 [updated March 2011]). The Cochrane Collaboration; 2011. http://handbook-5-1.cochrane.org/
- Humphreys DK, Panter J, Ogilvie D. Questioning the application of risk of bias tools in appraising evidence from natural experimental studies: critical reflections on Benton et al., IJBNPA 2016. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2017;14(1):49. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-017-0500-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- MacMillan F, Kirk A, Mutrie N, Matthews L, Robertson K, Saunders DH. A systematic review of physical activity and sedentary behavior intervention studies in youth with type 1 diabetes: study characteristics, intervention design, and efficacy. Pediatr Diabetes. 2014;15(3):175–89. https://doi.org/10.1111/pedi.12060.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- MacMillan F, Karamacoska D, El Masri A, McBride KA, Steiner GZ, Cook A, … George ES. A systematic review of health promotion intervention studies in the police force: study characteristics, intervention design and impacts on health. Occup Environ Med. 2017. https://doi.org/10.1136/oemed-2017-104430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Steiner GZ, Mathersul DC, MacMillan F, Camfield DA, Klupp NL, Seto SW, … Chang DH. A systematic review of intervention studies examining nutritional and herbal therapies for mild cognitive impairment and dementia using neuroimaging methods: study characteristics and intervention efficacy. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:21. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/6083629.Google Scholar
- Sterne JA, Hernán MA, Reeves BC, Savović J, Berkman ND, Viswanathan M, … Higgins JP. ROBINS-I: a tool for assessing risk of bias in non-randomised studies of interventions. BMJ. 2016;355. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i4919.
- Uman LS. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses. J Can Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2011;20(1):57–9.Google Scholar