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Systematic Reviews: Screening & Analysis

A guide to conducting systematic reviews.

Critical Appraisal Worksheets

Critical Appraisal Worksheets:

  • Worksheets from the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine in Oxford
  • Worksheets from the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine in Toronto

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Study Inclusion/Exclusion

The decision criteria and process must be decided before the review begins. The review of the search results is usually conducted in two phases:
  • Review title/abstract
  • Review full-text

At least two independent reviewers are needed, with a third person available to resolve conflicts.

Keep a log of excluded studies with reasons for exclusion. Simple Excel spreadsheets can be designed to track the process. 

Screening and Extraction Tools

Data Extraction & Quality Assessment

For studies selected for inclusion:
  • What data will be extracted?
  • What software will be used?
  • What are the procedures for extraction
    • Number of reviewers
    • Dispute resolution process
  • Will authors be contacted for further data?
  • What is the translation process?

What criteria will be used for the quality assessment of the included studies? What process will be followed for the quality assessment?

  • Number of reviewers
  • Dispute resolution

How will the quality assessment be used in analysis?

Data Analysis and Synthesis

Things to consider:
  • Meta-analysis and/or narrative analysis?
  • Measures of heterogeneity
  • Outcomes of interest
  • Effect measures to be used
  • Subgroup analysis plans
  • Publication bias analysis

For qualitative data:

  • ATLAS.ti to code and analyze blocks of text/audio files (fee based)