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Hierarchy of Reviews: Most Common Types with Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis Considered the Highest Quality of Evidence
Literature Review Example
Remember, a literature review provides an overview of a topic. There may or may not be a method for how studies are collected or interpreted. Lit reviews aren't always obviously labeled "literature review"; they may be embedded within sections such as the introduction or background. You can figure this out by reading the article.
Dance therapy for individuals with Parkinson's Disease
Notice how the introduction and subheadings provide background on the topic and describe way it's important. Some studies are grouped together that convey a similar idea. Limitations of some studies are addressed as a way of showing the significance of the research topic.
Gender differences in stroke recognition among stroke survivors
Notice how the literature review provides background information on the topic. It starts more general by discussing stroke recognition and then drills into the gender difference aspect. Other studies are combined in a meaningful way --> they are grouped into "themes" throughout the article. Again, every article is not mentioned individually, some of them are grouped together if they say similar things.
Systematic Review Examples
Systematic reviews address a clinical question. Reviews are gathered using a specific, defined set of criteria.
- Selection criteria is defined
- The words "Systematic Review" may appear int he title or abstract
- Use Cochrane Library to search for reviews
- BTW -> Cochrane Reviews aka Systematic Reviews
Meta-analysis is a study that combines data from OTHER studies. All the studies are combined to argue whether a clinical intervention is statistically significant by combining the results from the other studies. For example, you want to examine a specific headache intervention without running a clinical trial. You can look at other articles that discuss your clinical intervention, combine all the participants from those articles, and run a statistical analysis to test if your results are significant. Guess what? There's a lot of math.
- Include the words "meta-analysis" or "meta analysis" in your keywords
- Meta-analyses will always be accompanied by a systematic review, but a systematic review may not have a meta-analysis
- See if the abstract or results section mention a meta-analysis
- Use databases like Cochrane or PubMed
Cochrane Collection Plus- EBSCOhost
Cochrane Collection Plus combines the most comprehensive databases from the Cochrane Library including: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane Clinical Answers, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and Cochrane Methodology Register.
PubMed Central (PMC) - Public Web site
More than 19 million citations for biomedical articles from MEDLINE and life science journals. Citations may include links to full-text articles from PubMed Central or publisher web sites.