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Qualitative methodological research by SHTAC on systematic reviews in public health now published

Published: 27 June 2012
Experiences of systematic reviewing

A paper reporting the results of qualitative interviews with systematic reviewers in public health about their experiences of learning and applying reviewing methodology is published in the journal Evaluation and the Health Professions.

Systematic reviews play an increasingly important role in decision making in health promotion and public health. However, little has been published on how systematic reviewers acquire necessary knowledge and skills, and on the challenges they face in producing reviews. A paper just published in the journal Evaluation and the Health Professions reports the results of qualitative interviews with a sample of 17 systematic reviewers. The research investigated their experiences of learning and applying systematic review methodology, as well as training and supporting others to do reviews.

The interviewees described practical experience, training, and mentoring as being key ways that they learned reviewing skills, often in combination. Practice-based learning was considered to be particularly beneficial. It was acknowledged that judgement often needs to be exercised when reviewing studies, but this can be challenging particularly for novice reviewers. The complex nature of public health evidence also presents methodological challenges. However, some innovative solutions were described.  For more on SHTAC's research in health promotion and public health and on research methodology visit our Research page

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