Systematic reviews: guidance relevant for studies of older people

Susan Shenkin, Jennifer Harrison, Timothy Wilkinson, Richard M. Dodds, John P. A. Ioannidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are increasingly common. This article aims to provide guidance for people conducting systematic reviews relevant to the healthcare of older people. An awareness of these issues will also help people reading systematic reviews to determine whether the results will influence their clinical practice. It is essential that systematic reviews are performed by a team which includes the required technical and clinical expertise. Those performing reviews for the first time should ensure they have appropriate training and support. They must be planned and performed in a transparent and methodologically robust way: guidelines are available. The protocol should be written – and if possible published – before starting the review. Geriatricians will be interested in a table of baseline characteristics, which will help to determine if the studied samples or populations are similar to their patients. Reviews of studies of older people should consider how they will manage issues such as different age cut-offs; non-specific presentations; multiple predictors and outcomes; potential biases and confounders. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses may provide evidence to improve older people’s care, or determine where new evidence is required. Newer methodologies, such as meta-analyses of individual level data, network meta-analyses and umbrella reviews, and realist synthesis, may improve the reliability and clinical utility of systematic reviews.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAge and Ageing
Early online date24 Jun 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jun 2017


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