Addressing resource limitations among systematic review groups




Poster session 3


Tuesday 25 October 2016 - 10:30 to 11:00


All authors in correct order:

Blazina I1
1 Pacific Northwest Evidence-Based Practice Center, USA
Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author:

Ian Blazina

Contact person:

Abstract text
Background: Systematic reviews are essential tools in evidence synthesis and evidence-based decisionmaking. They are highly technical, costly, and time-consuming projects that often must be tailored to the needs of funders/end users. Rapid reviews, streamlining, and outsourcing of review processes have been used to address these high resource demands. However, the scope of the burden of resource limitations and the prevalence of the various means of addressing such limitations are unknown.

Objectives: To assess the burden of resource limitations on the conduct and dissemination of systematic reviews and the frequency with which various methods of addressing such limitations are employed.

Methods: A questionnaire was circulated among systematic reviewers that assessed: 1) the perceived burden and scope of resource limitations on research teams and review products; 2) the review processes affected by resource limitations; 3) the impact of funders/end users on review scoping and conduct; and 4) the frequency of use of rapid reviews, streamlining processes, subcontracting, and outsourcing of review processes.

Results: Preliminary results suggest that review teams and products are somewhat or substantially burdened by limitations in time, funding, and researcher and administrative staffing; more than half of the respondents reported difficulty in finding skilled systematic reviewers, and funding issues have led some organizations to largely abandon review work. Resource limitations commonly affect review scoping, searches, data abstraction, and dissemination. Funders/end users often influence scoping, especially in non-Cochrane centers, where review questions and scope are frequently driven by end users. Rapid reviews are used by one-third of respondents, and more than half conduct streamlined reviews, while few groups subcontract entire reviews or outsource review processes.

Conclusions: Limitations in funding, time, and staffing substantially impact systematic review work. Streamlining is commonly used to deal with such limitations,while use of other methods is less common. Methodological work to establish best practices for streamlining is needed.