The importance of systematic reviews

‘Systematic reviews and meta-analyses have become increasingly important in health care. Clinicians read them to keep up to date with their field, and they are often used as a starting point for developing clinical practice guidelines.

Granting [funding] agencies may require a systematic review to ensure there is justification for further research, and some health care journals are moving in this direction. As with all research, the value of a systematic review depends on what was done, what was found, and the clarity of reporting. As with other publications, the reporting quality of systematic reviews varies, limiting readers’ ability to assess the strengths and weaknesses of those reviews.’

Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff, Altman DG. The PRISMA Group. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: The PRISMA statement, PLoS Med 6(7): e1000097. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000097, 21st July 2009.