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Systematic Reviews: Review Types

Types of Reviews

An effectiveness review examines the effectiveness of a specific intervention by synthesizing experimental, quasi-experimental, and observational studies.

qualitative systematic review aggregates themes, concepts, and experiences acquired from studies that collect and analyze non-numeric data using observations, interviews, questionnaires, or focus groups.

A scoping review often addresses a broader research question and can be used as preparation for an evidence synthesis. The purpose of this type of review is to find all available information on a certain topic in order to identify gaps in the published and unpublished literature. Although the question is often less structured, scoping reviews have their own set of guidelines and still follow a systematic methodology.

A mixed methods review is a systematic review that synthesizes two or more types of data (often quantitative and qualitative). This method of review is useful for multidisciplinary research questions or as a way to address the same overlapping or complementary review questions.

An umbrella review is, simply put, a review of systematic reviews written on a certain research topic. In order to maintain the highest level of research, only systematic reviews and meta-analyses are included in an umbrella review.

A rapid review is a time-constrained systematic review. Methodological shortcuts are used for topics that require quick decisions.

A text and opinion review uses evidence from expert opinions, comments, discourse, etc. derived from journals, magazines, and reports.

A prevalence and incidence review is used for synthesizing frequency data focused on public health and social policy. This type of review is meant to inform healthcare professionals and policy makers on the present and future burden of healthcare.

An economic review offers healthcare and policy decision makers comparative analyses of alternative health interventions. This type of review synthesizes economic evaluations: economic impact analyses, programmatic cost analyses, benefit-cost analyses, and cost-effectiveness analyses.

Often referred to as reviews of association, etiology and risk reviews evaluate the relationship of a genetic or environmental factor and the development of a specific health-related outcome.

Reviews of diagnostic test accuracy summarize test performance using studies that compare a diagnostic test of interest, or index test, with an existing "gold standard" diagnostic test, or reference test. 

A systematic review of measurement properties synthesizes studies both published and unpublished that report the results of psychometric instrument testing. Validity, reliability, and responsiveness are properties commonly considered during assessment.

A meta-analysis is a synthesis of evidence using statistical methods. It can stand alone, but is most often performed as part of a systematic review.

A literature review or narrative review is an assessment of a body of research that addresses a specific topic or research question. The search strategies, comprehensiveness, and time range covered will vary and do not follow an established protocol. For these reasons, a literature review is NOT considered a systematic review.