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Special Contribution
September 1998

Guides for Reading and Interpreting Systematic ReviewsIII. How Did the Authors Synthesize the Data and Make Their Conclusions?

Author Affiliations

From the Thomas C. Chalmers Center for Systematic Reviews, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute (Mr Moher and Dr Klassen), and the Departments of Pediatrics and Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Ottawa (Mr Moher and Dr Klassen), Ottawa, Ontario; and the Health Information Research Unit, Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario (Dr Jadad).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1998;152(9):915-920. doi:10.1001/archpedi.152.9.915

In the first 2 articles in this series, we highlighted the following issues that we as readers consider when interpreting a systematic review: a well-formulated, clinically relevant question; a comprehensive search to identify relevant trials; and an assessment of the quality of the included trials. Another crucial issue in the interpretation of a systematic review is how the authors synthesized the evidence. As discussed in the first article in this series, data can be synthesized using qualitative and quantitative methods. As with any other aspect of a systematic review, readers are in a better position if they can understand and, if desired, can replicate how the authors synthesized the evidence and made their conclusions.

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