The free Article Alert service delivers a weekly email to your inbox containing the most recently published articles on all aspects of systematic review and comparative effectiveness review methodologies.
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The Article Alert for the week of October 6, 2014 (sample articles)
Finfgeld-Connett D. Metasynthesis Findings: Potential Versus Reality. Qual.Health Res. Epub 2014 Sep 5. PMID: 25192758.
Early on, qualitative researchers predicted that metasynthesis research had the potential to significantly push knowledge development forward. More recently, scholars have questioned whether this is actually occurring. To examine this concern, a randomly selected sample of metasynthesis articles was systematically reviewed to identify the types of findings that have been produced. Based on this systematic examination, it appears that findings from metasynthesis investigations might not be reaching their full potential. Metasynthesis investigations frequently result in isolated findings rather than findings in relationship, and opportunities to generate research hypotheses and theoretical models are not always fully realized. With this in mind, methods for moving metasynthesis findings into relationship are discussed.
Atkinson KM, Koenka AC, Sanchez CE, Moshontz H, Cooper H. Reporting standards for literature searches and report inclusion criteria: making research syntheses more transparent and easy to replicate. Res.Synth.Method. Epub 2014 Sep 24
A complete description of the literature search, including the criteria used for the inclusion of reports after they have been located, used in a research synthesis or meta-analysis is critical if subsequent researchers are to accurately evaluate and reproduce a synthesis' methods and results. Based on previous guidelines and new suggestions, we present a set of focused and detailed standards for reporting the methods used in a literature search. The guidelines cover five search strategies: reference database searches, journal and bibliography searches, searches of the reference lists of reports, citation searches, and direct contact searches. First, we bring together all the unique recommendations made in existing guidelines for research synthesis. Second, we identify gaps in reporting standards for search strategies. Third, we address these gaps by providing new reporting recommendations. Our hope is to facilitate successful evaluation and replication of research synthesis results.
Halawa N. Evidence-based medicine: the conundrum of grading systems. Consult.Pharm. 2014;29(8):536-46. PMID: 25203261.
Objective: To provide a review and commentary of various systems that grade the strength of a body of evidence for evaluating health care recommendations.
Data Sources: A PubMed literature review was conducted between the years 2000 and 2013 using the following key words: evidence, grading systems, health care decisions, evidence quality, GRADE, and GRADE Working Group. The search focused on guidelines, review articles, and descriptive articles from prominent journals.
Study Selection: A total of 50 articles were reviewed, of which 24 were selected for inclusion. Selected articles prior to the year 2000 were included strictly for background information. Articles were included based on the reputation of the journal or publishing body and whether the content addresses the objective of this review.
Data Extraction/Synthesis: A large number of varying grading systems exist, and some use numerical grading while others use prose recommendations. These systems help clinicians decipher the evidence; however, evaluating a multitude of grading systems, which are not only inconsistent but also contain their own inherent strengths and weaknesses, makes evaluation complex.
Conclusion: Clinicians face a challenge when deciding which of these grading systems to use. The GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation) Working Group began in 2000 as an informal collaboration of people with an interest in addressing the shortcomings of present grading systems in health care. Many international organizations have adopted and/or endorsed the GRADE system or modified it for use in practice. Nevertheless, the true effectiveness of the system as a universal methodology for grading evidence still remains to be validated. To date, there has not been any literature-based proof of its validity; therefore, further research should be conducted in this area.