Narrative Literature Reviews Versus Systematic Reviews

Literature review can be…
Narrative or systematic

Narrative review is
generally based on a subjective selection of publication through which the reviewer qualitatively addresses a question summarizing the findings of previous studies and drawing a conclusion.

Disadvantages of Narrative review
1. authors bias
2. no clear methodology (the identification of the literature is not transparent)
3. lack of specific search strategy = risk of failing to identify relevant or key studies on a given topic
4. questions about the conclusions made by the authors
5. should be considered opinion pieces more than evidence based.

Systematic Review is
a strict approach (i.e. clear set of rules used for identifying studies); which includes the use of an accurate search strategy in order to identify all studies addressing a specific topic, the establishment of clear inclusion/exclusion criteria and well-defined methodological analysis of the selected studies.

a systematic review ALWAYS proceeds a meta-analysis. A statistical technique that involves combining and analyzing the results of many research studies on a specific topic in order to identify overall trends.

Clinical effectiveness
Meta-analysis is most often use to assess the CLINICAL EFFECTIVENESS OF HEALTHCARE INTERVENTIONS; it does this by combining data from two or more randomized control trials.

Treatment effect
Meta-analysis of trials provides a PRECISE ESTIMATE OF TREATMENT EFFECT, giving due weight to the size of the different studies included.

Quality of the Systematic review
The VALIDITY of the meta-analysis DEPENDS on the QUALITY OF THE SYSTEMATIC REVIEW on which it is based.

Good meta-analysis
A good meta-analysis aim for COMPLETE COVERAGE of all RELEVANT STUDIES, look for the presence of HETEROGENEITY, and explore the robustness of the main findings using SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS.

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In systematic reviews, differences in the results of individual studies that are more than a chance occurrence. Cultural, social, biological, or other differences within a group.

Many judgments are required in the process of preparing a meta-analysis. Sensitivity analyses should be used to examine whether overall findings are robust to potentially influential decisions.Testing the robustness of the results of a model or system in the presence of uncertainty.

Requirements for meta-analysis
WELL-EXECUTED SYSTEMATIC REVIEW. However competent the meta-analysis, if the original review was partial, flawed or otherwise unsystematic, then the meta-analysis may provide a precise quantitative estimate that is simply wrong.

Conducting meta-analysis
NEEDS: location of studies, quality assessments, calculating effect size, checking for publication bias,

Research question
Narrative = broadly formulated
Systematic = Strictly formulated

Narrative = Not, or insufficiently described
Systematic = Clearly defined

Search Strategy
Narrative = Not described
Systematic = Clearly defined

Selection of the studies
Narrative = Not described
Systematic = Clearly defined

Ranking of studies
Narrative = Not performed
Systematic = By levels of evidence

Analysis of the studies
Narrative = Not described
Systematic = Clearly described

Cite this page

Narrative Literature Reviews Versus Systematic Reviews. (2019, Jan 30). Retrieved from

Narrative Literature Reviews Versus Systematic Reviews
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