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Systematic reviews: guidance relevant for studies of older people

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    Rights statement: © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution,and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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https://academic.oup.com/ageing/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/ageing/afx105
Original languageEnglish
JournalAge and Ageing
Early online date24 Jun 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jun 2017

Abstract

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.

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