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BMJ. Sep 3, 1994; 309(6954): 597–599.
PMCID: PMC2541393
Rationale for systematic reviews.
C. D. Mulrow
Division of General Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio 70284.
Abstract
Systematic literature reviews including meta-analyses are invaluable scientific activities. The rationale for such reviews is well established. Health care providers, researchers, and policy makers are inundated with unmanageable amounts of information; they need systematic reviews to efficiently integrate existing information and provide data for rational decision making. Systematic reviews establish whether scientific findings are consistent and can be generalised across populations, settings, and treatment variations, or whether findings vary significantly by particular subsets. Meta-analyses in particular can increase power and precision of estimates of treatment effects and exposure risks. Finally, explicit methods used in systematic reviews limit bias and, hopefully, will improve reliability and accuracy of conclusions.
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