[img_assist|nid=9|title=The 'pyramid of evidence'|desc=|link=node|align=right|width=212|height=155]Now that the excitement of the launch of Open Medicine is ebbing somewhat, I’d like to take a moment to mention one of the important papers in our inaugural issue, and to point readers to further peer-reviewed research to enhance their reading of the paper.
Let’s take a look at the systematic review (SR) in issue #1, written by two prominent clinicians in evidence-based medicine – Gordon Guyatt and P.J. Devereaux at McMaster University – and an interprofessional group of researchers from Canada and the United States.
Their paper, entitled
Why is this research important? First, systematic reviews are summaries of the literature based on thorough literature searches and widely-viewed as the highest form of evidence in healthcare. The literature review in a SR is followed by an in-depth critical appraisal of the studies found to identify the most valid for review. In this SR, Neera Bhatnagar, a health sciences librarian at the McMaster Library, did the literature review and included the databases she searched under Study Identification.
While many SRs look at a number of randomized controlled trials, Guyatt et al looked at “published and unpublished prospective or retrospective observational studies comparing health outcomes (mortality or morbidity) in Canada and the United States for patients of any age with the same diagnosis.” This is an important aspect of the review, and helps to understand how the researchers determined study eligibility, and classified them as of high or low quality.
It makes for interesting reading - even the study’s limitations.
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