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Systematic reviews and meta-analysis 

Systematic reviews and meta-analysis
Systematic reviews and meta-analysis

Jimmy Volmink

and Mike Clarke

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date: 28 October 2021

Science, including health care and healthcare research, should be a cumulative process. New studies should take account of information from existing research when they are designed, and their findings should be interpreted in the context of other similar studies. This provides people making decisions and choices about health care with the knowledge they need from research, that has both minimized bias and maximized the power of the findings. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses provide the means to achieve this. This chapter covers the process for these forms of scientific research. It describes how to conduct the systematic reviews and meta-analyses, how to interpret them and how to appraise their reports. We outline various elements in the process, including formulation of a review question, identification of relevant studies, extraction of data, assessment of bias in included studies, synthesis of the data, interpreting the evidence and writing up and updating the review.

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