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CMAJ. 1997 May 15; 156(10): 1411–1416.
PMCID: PMC1227410

A guide to interpreting discordant systematic reviews


Systematic reviews are becoming prominent tools to guide health care decisions. As the number of published systematic reviews increases, it is common to find more than 1 systematic review addressing the same or a very similar therapeutic question. Despite the promise for systematic reviews to resolve conflicting results of primary studies, conflicts among reviews are now emerging. Such conflicts produce difficulties for decision-makers (including clinicians, policy-makers, researchers and patients) who rely on these reviews to help them make choices among alternative interventions when experts and the results of trials disagree. The authors provide an adjunct decision tool--a decision algorithm--to help decision-makers select from among discordant reviews.

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