It is important when searching for evidence that search terms are referred back to your original PICO question.
Why Search for Prior Review
Prior to starting a systematic review you need to find out if a systematic review has been done or is under way. Checking for prior reviews helps you determine if your review is unique or ensures that you aren't repeating a review that has been done or registered. There are several key points to note:
I. Determine if your review is unique.You don't want to replicate a review if it has just been done!
a) Is it out of date?
b) Maybe it wasn't just done. Maybe it's a few years old. Does it need to be updated?
II. If your idea is taken, how can you modify it to make it unique?
a) Be careful in your selection criteria.
b) Read the prior review very carefully.
For example, if you wanted to do a review on interventions to reduce adolescent pregnancy and (surprise, surprise) it's already been done, don't think that you can just throw in race or ethnicity and make it all brand new.
Did they do an analysis by race/ethnicity? Did they indicate there were even enough studies with that sort of a focus?
If a prior, recent review indicates the studies aren't there, then you could very well be wasting your time trying to do a review in an area in which there is little or no original research.
III. Determine if a similar review exists which means you can:
a) Evaluate the review
Was the search strategy appropriate?
Did they evaluate the quality of the studies or simply vote count?
How well do they describe their methods?
Take note: Reporting not necessarily an indicator of quality; it could just be an indicator the author did not know to use reporting standards
IV. What is different about your SR?
a) Theory/model, race/ethnicity, age, setting, etc.
Verifying if a systematic review has been done could save you a great deal of time (and heartbreak!) later.
PPT by by Margaret J. Foster of Texas A&M.
The following image represents the hierarchy and availability of the different types of research evidence and studies. As you can see, Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis are the highest level of evidence, but the least populous of all the study types.
TMCL Library Liaisons can partner with you and advise on how to start a systematic review.
Basic Service includes:
To begin, fill out the online request form