Undertaking a systematic review: The road to successful completion

Caroline Shuldham, Sharon Fleming, Janelle Yorke

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The systematic review is an important research method that allows for the critical analysis of the results from a range of existing studies to answer research questions. The findings can be used to inform clinical decisions, as well as the development of protocols and guidelines. The aim of this paper is to explore the steps involved in undertaking a Cochrane systematic review and to encourage more nurses to participate in this world wide collaboration to answer questions that are relevant to nursing practice. The first stage of a review involves initiating a focussed clinical question in which the patient group or problem is identified as are the intervention, comparison and outcome, which will become the focus of study. Each review is guided by a protocol that is subject to peer review and followed by a structured search of the worldwide literature on the subject. Quality assessment and data extraction are done systematically and subject to cross-checking. The results are analysed using statistical methods, including meta-analysis. Publication is electronic in the Cochrane Library and many will also be published in other journals. As with all research, findings should be presented in a way that enables the reader to assess whether the review can be applied to their patient.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-298
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Research in Nursing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Cochrane reviews
  • Meta-analysis
  • Quantitative data
  • Randomised controlled trial
  • Statistical methods
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Research and Theory


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