Introduction to Systematic Reviews

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


A systematic review identifies and synthesizes all relevant studies that fit prespecified criteria to answer a research question. Systematic review methods can be used to answer many types of research questions. The type of question most relevant to trialists is the effects of treatments and is thus the focus of this chapter. We discuss the motivation for and importance of performing systematic reviews and their relevance to trialists. We introduce the key steps in completing a systematic review, including framing the question, searching for and selecting studies, collecting data, assessing risk of bias in included studies, conducting a qualitative synthesis and a quantitative synthesis (i.e., meta-analysis), grading the certainty of evidence, and writing the systematic review report. We also describe how to identify systematic reviews and how to assess their methodological rigor. We discuss the challenges and criticisms of systematic reviews, and how technology and innovations, combined with a closer partnership between trialists and systematic reviewers, can help identify effective and safe evidence-based practices more quickly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPrinciples and Practice of Clinical Trials
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783319526362
ISBN (Print)9783319526355
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Evidence-based
  • Meta-analysis
  • Research synthesis
  • Risk of bias
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Mathematics


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