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Systematic Review Guide

Overview of the Systematic Review process with links to resources


Research questions are targeted questions that provide the evidence base for specific clinical decisions.  Developing a well formulated research question will help in the structuring and planning of the search strategy. Research questions are formulated into concepts such as; Context or setting; Population of interest; Exposure; Behaviour; Intervention to be assessed; Comparison with other interventions; Outcomes; Study types such as RTCs or Case studies; Evaluation, how well etc.

Other information searching structures include: 

SPIDER: (Qualitative evidence synthesis) S Sample; PI Phenomenon of Interest; D Design; E Evaluation; R Research type
MIP (Medical ethics questions) M Methodology  e.g. in-depth interviews or questionnaires; I Issues e.g. Healthcare Rationing or  end-of-life decision-making; P Participants e.g. physicians or patients
ECLIPS(E) (Health service management questions) E Expectation—what does the search requester want the information for (the original ‘I’s)?; C Client Group; L Location; I Impact—what is the change in the service, if any, which is being looked for? What would constitute success? How is this being measured?; P Professionals; S Service—for which service are you looking for information? For example, outpatient services, nurse-led clinics, intermediate care.
CMO or CIMO (Realist Synthesis questions) C Context; I Intervention; M Mechanism; O Outcome.
CLIP (Health service management questions) C Client – at whom is the service aimed?; L Location – where is the service sited?; I Improvement – what do you want to find out?; P Professional – who is involved in providing/improving the service?
BeHEMoTh (identification of theories for realist synthesis questions) Be Behaviour of interest;  H Health context (the service, policy, programme or intervention); E Exclusions (for reviewers to exclude non theories); MoTh: Models or Theories