Summaries of findings, descriptions of interventions, and information about adverse effects would make reviews more informative Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: To describe challenges when extracting and presenting relevant, consistent, and accessible information from systematic reviews. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We systematically selected comparisons and outcomes from 18 Cochrane reviews, evaluated the quality of evidence for each outcome using the GRADE system, and developed standardized patient information. We evaluated the information using patient, review author, researcher, and clinician feedback. RESULTS: Challenges included large numbers of comparisons and outcomes; missing information about treatments and adverse effects; and variations in how effect was measured and presented. By selecting comparisons and outcomes based on patient-relevance, quality, and nonredundancy, we halved the number of outcomes. We prepared information about treatments and adverse effects using other sources. We framed outcomes consistently and standardized the presentation of magnitude of effect. CONCLUSIONS: The incorporation of summary of findings tables in reviews could address these challenges. Problems could also be reduced if review groups agreed upon standard outcomes; excluded less relevant outcomes; incorporated more information about interventions and adverse effects; and implemented clearer guidelines for the presentation of results.


  • Glenton, Claire
  • Underland, Vigdis
  • Kho, Michelle
  • Pennick, Victoria
  • Oxman, Andrew D

publication date

  • August 2006