Systematic reviews: Meta-analyses, integrative reviews, and meta-syntheses Systematic reviews Other article types that are important to understand for evidence-based practice are review articles. Review articles include systematic reviews, meta-analyses, integrative reviews (sometimes called narrative reviews), meta-syntheses, and meta-summaries. A systematic review is a summation and assessment of a group of research studies that test a similar research question. Systematic reviews are based on a clear question, a detailed plan which includes a search strategy, and appraisal of a group of studies related to the question. If statistical techniques are used to summarize and assess studies, the systematic review is labeled as a meta-analysis. A meta-analysis is a summary of a number of studies focused on one question or topic, and uses a specific statistical methodology to synthesize the findings in order to draw conclusions about the area of focus. An integrative review is a focused review and synthesis of research or theoretical literature in a particular focus area, and includes specific steps of literature integration and synthesis without statistical analysis; it can include both quantitative and qualitative articles (Cochrane Consumer Network, 2016; Uman, 2011; Whittemore, 2005). At times reviews use the terms systematic review and integrative review interchangeably. Both meta-synthesis and meta-summary are the synthesis of a number of qualitative research studies on a focused topic using specific qualitative methodology (Kastner et al., 2016; Sandelowski & Barrosos, 2007).
The components of review articles will be discussed in greater detail in Chapters 6, 11, and 20. These articles take a number of studies related to a clinical question and, using a specific set of criteria and methods, evaluate the studies as a whole. While they may vary somewhat in approach, these reviews all help to better inform and develop evidence-based practice. The meta-analysis in Appendix E is an example of a systematic review that is a meta-analysis.
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