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Article Alert

The free Article Alert service delivers a weekly email to your inbox containing the most recently published articles on all aspects of systematic review and comparative effectiveness review methodologies.

  • Medical, psychological, educational, etc., methodology research literatures covered
  • Curated by our seasoned research staff from a wide array of sources: PubMed, journal table of contents, author alerts, bibliographies, and prominent international methodology and grey literature Web sites
  • Averages 20 citations/week (pertinent citations screened from more than 1,500 citations weekly)
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The Article Alert for the week of April 20, 2015 (sample articles)

Browman G, Somerfield ML,G., Brouwers M. When is good, good enough? Methodological pragmatism for sustainable guideline development. Implement Sci. 2015 Mar 6;10(1):28. PMID: 25880370.

Background: Continuous escalation in methodological and procedural rigor for evidence-based processes in guideline development is associated with increasing costs and production delays that threaten sustainability. While health research methodologists are appropriately responsible for promoting increasing rigor in guideline development, guideline sponsors are responsible for funding such processes.
Discussion: This paper acknowledges that other stakeholders in addition to methodologists should be more involved in negotiating trade-offs between methodological procedures and efficiency in guideline production to produce guidelines that are 'good enough' to be trustworthy and affordable under specific circumstances. The argument for reasonable methodological compromise to meet practical circumstances is consistent with current implicit methodological practice. This paper proposes a conceptual tool as a framework to be used by different stakeholders in negotiating, and explicitly reporting, reasonable compromises for trustworthy as well as cost-worthy guidelines. The framework helps fill a transparency gap in how methodological choices in guideline development are made. The principle, 'when good is good enough' can serve as a basis for this approach. The conceptual tool 'Efficiency-Validity Methodological Continuum' acknowledges trade-offs between validity and efficiency in evidence-based guideline development and allows for negotiation, guided by methodologists, of reasonable methodological compromises among stakeholders. Collaboration among guideline stakeholders in the development process is necessary if evidence-based guideline development is to be sustainable.


Kristiansen A, Brandt L, Alonso-Coello P, Agoritsas T, Akl EA, Conboy T, Elbarbary M, Ferwana M, Medani W, Murad MH, et al. Development of a novel, multilayered presentation format for clinical practice guidelines. Chest. 2015 Mar 1;147(3):754-63. PMID: 25317597.

Background: Bridging the gap between clinical research and everyday health-care practice requires effective communication strategies. To address current shortcomings in conveying practice recommendations and supporting evidence, we are creating and testing presentation formats for clinical practice guidelines (CPGs).
Methods: We carried out multiple cycles of brainstorming and sketching, developing a prototype. Physicians participating in the user testing viewed CPG formats linked to clinical scenarios and engaged in semistructured interviews applying a think-aloud method for exploring important aspects of user experience.
Results: We developed a multilayered presentation format that allows clinicians to successively view more in-depth information. Starting with the recommendations, clinicians can, on demand, access a rationale and a key information section containing statements on quality of the evidence, balance between desirable and undesirable consequences, values and preferences, and resource considerations. We collected feedback from 27 stakeholders and performed user testing with 47 practicing physicians from six countries. Advisory group feedback and user testing of the first version revealed problems with conceptual understanding of underlying CPG methodology, as well as difficulties with the complexity of the layout and content. Extensive revisions made before the second round of user testing resulted in most participants expressing overall satisfaction with the final presentation format.
Conclusions: We have developed an electronic, multilayered, CPG format that enhances the usability of CPGs for frontline clinicians. We have implemented the format in electronic guideline tools that guideline organizations can now use when authoring and publishing their guidelines.


Petticrew M. Time to rethink the systematic review catechism? Moving from 'what works' to 'what happens'. Syst.Rev. 2015 Mar 28;4(1):36. PMID: 25875303.

Systematic review methods are developing rapidly, and most researchers would recognise their key methodological aspects, such as a closely focussed question, a comprehensive search, and a focus on synthesising 'stronger' rather than 'weaker' evidence. However, it may be helpful to question some of these underlying principles, because while they work well for simpler review questions, they may result in overly narrow approaches to more complex questions and interventions. This commentary discusses some core principles of systematic reviews, and how they may require further rethinking, particularly as reviewers turn their attention to increasingly complex issues, where a Bayesian perspective on evidence synthesis, which would aim to assemble evidence - of different types, if necessary - in order to inform decisions', may be more productive than the 'traditional' systematic review model. Among areas identified for future research are the examination of publication bias in qualitative research; research on the efficiency and potential biases of comprehensive searches in different disciplines; and the use of Bayesian methods in evidence synthesis. The incorporation of a systems perspective into systematic reviews is also an area which needs rapid development.