This review covers the basic principles of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The problems associated with traditional narrative reviews are discussed, as is the role of systematic reviews in limiting bias associated with the assembly, critical appraisal, and synthesis of studies addressing specific clinical questions. Important issues that need to be considered when appraising a systematic review or meta-analysis are outlined, and some of the terms used in the reporting of systematic reviews and meta-analyses—such as odds ratio, relative risk, confidence interval, and the forest plot—are introduced.
- RCT, randomised controlled trial
- systematic review
- narrative review
- critical appraisal
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Competing interests: none declared
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