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Systematic Reviews

A guide for researchers beginning a medical systematic review or meta-analysis.

Relevant PRISMA Checklist Items

#4 Objectives - Provide an explicit statement of the objective(s) or question(s) the review addresses.

#5 Eligibility criteria - Specify the inclusion and exclusion criteria for the review and how studies were grouped for the syntheses.

Relevant Chapters from Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions

Team Members involved

The research question will typically be formulated by the Content Experts on the team and will include any inclusion/exclusion criteria necessary to produce a narrow and answerable question.  (Inclusion criteria are aspects of the study that must be present, Exclusion criteria are aspects which would automatically preclude a study from the review.)


What is PICO(T)? 

PICO is a tool commonly used in medical and health research to help researchers formulate a question. The difficulty in creating a question is often underestimated and PICO can help us parse out the important keys a good question should contain. This is just a tool, not a rigid structure in which all questions must fit.

P = Patient, Population, and/or Problem

I = Intervention

C = Comparison (not always applicable)

= Outcome

T = *Type of Study (what study design is most appropriate to answer the question?)

Sometimes you will see PICO TT where the additional T stands for the type of question you are asking which you do need to know to determine the best study design. 

*In some PICO(T) models you will see T stand for time. This only works if your question includes a concept of time. 

Additional Guidance

The early chapters of these books have additional information on formulating a specific, answerable research question: