Methodological Concerns and Quality Appraisal of Contemporary Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses in Pediatric Urology
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PURPOSE: The usefulness of systematic reviews and meta-analyses in influencing clinical practice depends on their quality. We sought to analyze the quality of published systematic reviews and meta-analyses in pediatric urology. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We searched PubMed (MEDLINE) and Embase for all systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in the top 5 pediatric urology journals between January 2000 and November 2009. Two reviewers independently selected articles for full text review. Scientific methodological quality was evaluated using the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews 11-item tool. RESULTS: Of 267 initial results 220 articles were excluded because they were surveys, case reports or narrative reviews. Full text evaluation of the remaining 47 articles further excluded 32 series of exclusively adult patients, leaving 15 for final analysis. Seven articles (47%) were published in 2009 (p <0.01). Only 1 review (7%) described a full search strategy and 3 (20%) allowed inclusion of non-English studies. In 8 reviews (53%) selection of studies was performed by 2 reviewers. Five systematic reviews (33%) described some form of quality assessment. Only 5 reviews (33%) described assessment of publication bias, while 8 (53%) checked for heterogeneity among studies. According to AMSTAR criteria, 7 systematic reviews (47%) were considered of less than fair methodological quality, 5 (33%) fair to good quality and 3 (20%) good quality. CONCLUSIONS: Despite a recent increase in the number of systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in pediatric urology journals, almost half of these reviews lack good scientific quality, raising concerns about their role in influencing clinical practice. Efforts should be made to improve the methodological quality of systematic reviews and meta-analyses in the pediatric urology literature.
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