ObjectivesAnalytical frameworks are graphical representation of the key questions answered by a systematic review and can support the development of guideline recommendations. Our objectives were to a) conduct a systematic review to identify, describe and compare all analytical frameworks published as part of a systematic and guideline development process related to colorectal cancer (CRC), and b) to use this case study to develop guidance on how to conduct systematic reviews of analytical frameworks.
MethodsWe developed a search strategy to identify eligible studies in Medline and Embase from 1996 until December 2020. We also manually searched guideline databases and websites to identify all guidelines and systematic reviews in CRC that used an analytical framework. We assessed the quality of the guidelines using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation II tool. The systematic review was registered in International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews, registration CRD42020172117.
ResultsWe screened 34,505 records and identified 1,166 guidelines and 3,127 systematic reviews on CRC of which five met our inclusion criteria. These five publications included four analytical frameworks in colorectal cancer (one update). We also describe our methodological approach to systematic reviews for analytical frameworks and underlying concepts for developing analytical framework using a bottom-up or top-down approach.
ConclusionFew guidelines and systematic reviews are utilizing analytical frameworks in the development of recommendations. Development of analytical frameworks should begin with a systematic search for existing analytical frameworks and follow a structured conceptual approach for their development to support guideline recommendations. Our methods may be helpful in achieving these objectives.