Once you have determined that the systematic review is the appropriate method for your topic and gathered your team - you are ready to begin.
The main component of this initial part is to clearly define your research question. This is essential to developing and gathering terms. It can be helpful to formulate your topic using PICO(TT). This framework can help you develop a specific and answerable clinical question.
|PICO Format||Definition & Questions to Consider|
|P||Patient, Population, or Problem
What are the characteristics of the patient or population? What is the condition or disease in which you are interested?
|I||Intervention or Exposure
What do you want to do with this patient (e.g. treat, diagnose, observe)?
|C||Comparison or Intervention (if appropriate)
What is the alternative to the intervention (e.g., placebo, different drug, surgery)?
What are the relevant outcomes (e.g., morbidity, death, complications)?
|T||Type of Clinical Question
Diagnosis, Etiology/Harm, Therapy, Prognosis, Prevention
|T||Type of Study Design to Answer the Question
What would be the best study design/methodology (systematic review, RCT, cohort study, case control, etc.)
Of course PICO(TT) is not suitable for all research questions. Other frameworks include:
If there is already a review on your topic, it may prove difficult to get your systematic review published. If a review already exists on the topic, ask how does your review add to or differ from these existing reviews. Explore the resources below to determine the existence of current reviews:
By creating and registering a protocol, you are setting out guidelines, reducing bias, and increasing transparency and reproducibility. There are many options for where to register your protocol:
Gold standard articles (GSAs) are those ideal types of studies that you want to include in your review. Gather 3 to 10 of these articles - you will use these to help determine your keywords and controlled vocabulary.
Remember these articles need to adhere to your inclusion/exclusion criteria.
Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews considers CENTRAL, MEDLINE, and Embase as three of the most important databases to use in your review. Although many databases overlap in content, you need to search multiple databases to be as comprehensive as possible. Make sure to choose databases that are appropriate to your topic. Commonly used databases include:
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