Primer in systematic reviews and research synthesis

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Well conducted, up to date systematic reviews provide best evidence to answer healthcare questions and research synthesis has become a research discipline it is own right, with methods, and a body of scientific research underpinning the methods.

Researchers, clinicians and public health policy makers can use findings from up to date robust reviews to inform their thinking. For researchers, this is an assessment of the gaps in research, and a rigorous sum of all relevant research to inform their research designs. For clinicians, this identifies the most appropriate treatments. For public health policy specialists, this might be a reliable assessment of what is known about the benefits and harms of various public health policies.

With the massive uptake in the methods of research synthesis, there is a need for researchers to know how to identify, read, appraise and interpret systematic reviews.