Systematic reviews are rarely used to inform study design - a systematic review and meta-analysis

Birgitte Nørgaard, Eva Draborg, Jane Andreasen, Carsten Bogh Juhl, Jennifer Yost, Klara Brunnhuber, Karen A. Robinson, Hans Lund

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: Our aim was to identify and synthesize the results from meta-research studies to determine whether and how authors of original studies in clinical health research use systematic reviews when designing new studies. Study design and setting: : For this systematic review, we searched MEDLINE (OVID), Embase (OVID) and the Cochrane Methodology Register. We included meta-research studies and primary outcome was the percentage of original studies using systematic reviews to design their study. Risk of bias was assessed using an ad hoc created list of ten items. The results are presented both as a narrative synthesis and a meta-analysis. Results: : Sixteen studies were included. The use of a systematic review to inform the design of new clinical studies varied between 0% and 73%, with a mean percentage of 17%. The number of components of the design in which information from previous systematic reviews was used varied from three to 11. Conclusion: : Clinical health research is characterized by variability regarding the extent to which systematic reviews are used to guide the design. An evidence-based research (EBR) approach towards research design when new clinical health studies are designed is necessary to decrease potential research redundancy and increase end-user value.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
StatePublished - May 2022


  • design
  • Evidence-based research
  • meta-analysis
  • meta-research
  • research redundancy
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Systematic reviews are rarely used to inform study design - a systematic review and meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this