Improving Conduct & reporting of Narrative Synthesis of Quantitative data (ICONS-Quant)

Systematic reviews use reproducible and transparent methods to draw conclusions from the available body of evidence. Narrative synthesis (NS) is a method used in many reviews that address important public health and policy questions, where it is not possible, or sensible, to use statistical methods such as meta-analysis. A common problem with NS is that the methods are not reported and the basis for the conclusions is unclear. This means that it is impossible to know whether the review conclusions can be trusted. Research suggests that authors are confused about how to undertake and report NS. This must be addressed to ensure decisions can be based on trustworthy evidence. To improve the way that NS is conducted and reported, we plan to develop user-friendly guidance for authors on how best to implement NS to a high standard; and develop a reporting guideline for NS. The conduct guidance and reporting guidelines will be based on existing guidance and reflect agreements on best practice among a group of international experts in NS. To encourage uptake of the guidance we will also develop online learning resources for authors. This will include a webinar, a website providing key resources, and an online learning module. 

Led by Hilary Thomson, Joint co-ordinating editor of Cochrane Public Health of the MRC, CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow.

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