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Critical Appraisal Resources for Nursing Research and EBP

What is a Systematic Review?

Systematic reviews are "rigorous and systematic syntheses of research findings about a clinical problem" (Schmidt & Brown, 2019, p. 101).  

A systematic review is a study of other studies on the same topic.  

Depending on the type of systematic review, the Level of Evidence may vary:  

  • Systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials: Level I
  • Meta-analyses (a type of systematic review): Level I
  • Systematic reviews of descriptive or qualitative studies: Level V

PRO TIPS: Systematic Review Checklist

Each JBI Checklist provides expert tips and guidance on what to look for to answer each question.  These tips begin on page 4.

Below are some additional Frequently Asked Questions about the Systematic Review Checklist that have been asked by students in previous semesters. 

Frequently Asked Question Response
Question 1 on the Checklist asks whether the review question is explicitly stated.  My article does not have a review question.  What should I do? While many systematic reviews will phrase their topic in the form of a question (oftentimes utilziing the PICOT format), others may phrase their topic in the form of a research purpose, aim or statement.  Check your article to see if the authors clearly and explicitly state their research purpose/aim/statement instead.  
For Questions 3 and 4, how is the search strategy different from the sources and resources that were used to locate studies in the review?

In Question 3, the search strategy refers to the search terms (keywords, subject headings, etc.) that were used to retrieve evidence for the systematic review. 

In Question 4, the sources and resources include the databases that were searched to retrieve evidence using the above search strategy addressed in Question 3.  

Articles on Systematic Review Methodology

Baird, R. (2018). Systematic reviews and meta-analytic techniquesSeminars in Pediatric Surgery, 27(6), 338-344. doi:10.1053/j.sempedsurg.2018.10.009

Bigby, M., & Williams, H. (2003). Appraising systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Archives of Dermatology, 139(6), 795-798. doi:10.1001/archderm.139.6.795

Davies, A. (2019). Carrying out systematic literature reviews: An introduction. British Journal of Nursing, 28(15), 1008-1014. doi:10.12968/bjon.2019.28.15.1008

Lin, L., & Chu, H. (2018). Quantifying publication bias in meta-analysis. Biometrics, 74(3), 785-794. doi:10.1111/biom.12817

Lockwood, C., & Oh, E. G. (2017). Systematic reviews: Guidelines, tools and checklists for authorsNursing and Health Sciences, 19(3), 273-277. doi:10.1111/nhs.12353

Munn, Z., Stern, C., Aromataris, E., Lockwood, C., & Jordan, Z. (2018). What kind of systematic review should I conduct? A proposed typology and guidance for systematic reviewers in the medical and health sciences. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 18(1), 5. doi:10.1186/s12874-017-0468-4