Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are useful for evidence-based clinical and public health practice. The widespread and growing application of systematic review methods for the synthesis of evidence on important or pressing research and clinical questions underscore the need for health-care professionals to understand and critique this research design. This course will provide a detailed description of the systematic review process, discuss the strengths and limitations of the method, and provide step-by-step guidance on how to actually perform a systematic review and meta-analysis. Specific topics to be covered include: formulation of the review question, searching of literature, quality assessment of studies, data extraction, meta-analytic methods, assessment of heterogeneity and report writing. The course will also cover statistical issues such as selection of statistical models for meta-analysis, practical examples of fixed and random effects models, best evidence syntheses (qualitative systematic reviews) as well as examples of methods to evaluate heterogeneity and publication bias. STATA statistical software will be used to perform meta-analysis during the computer lab, along with tutorials on how to effectively use tools such as PubMed for conducting reviews.
Basic courses in epidemiology and biostatistics.
Five 3.5 hour classes in week 1 involving a mix of instructor presentation, small group discussions, and general class discussions. The last hour or so of each class will be devoted to an individual exercise.
Requirements for Course Credit:
Students are required to complete a protocol for a systematic review that is due the Monday following the course (see assignment details below). Course credit requires attendance in at least four of the five classes and students are expected to participate in class discussions.
Assignment Details: 100% of the Course Mark:
Attendees who are seeking course credit are required to complete a protocol for a systematic review. They should detail their plans for a systematic review of their interest by outlining all proposed rationale, objectives and methods. The format and details included in the sample protocol can be followed as a guide. This assignment is due the Monday following the course.