Frequent EBL readers are well aware of the importance we put on systematic reviews, studies that synthesize many articles on a given topic and draw a conclusion about what the body of evidence shows.
So we were excited this week to stumble across a paper funded by the Milbank Memorial Fund and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control extolling the virtues of the systematic review for improving health across populations – especially for our policymakers.
The paper includes case studies on a wide range of topics — underage drinking, tobacco use and traffic safety interventions, to name a few.
And it draws the following conclusions about systematic reviews, in general:
- Policymakers should feel confident about the findings of systematic reviews because, by definition, they help reduce the bias often present in single studies.
- Systematic reviews help policymakers work efficiently and reduce the influence of outside interests.
- Researchers in all fields must make strategic efforts to publicize and implement review findings. (Here at EBL, we’re doing our best in this area!)
- Enhancing the “literacy” of decision makers and the public about the strengths and weaknesses of different types of evidence can help improve population health policy.
So there you have it: More evidence in support of the systematic review. The next time you’re thinking about making a health decision, considering checking the body of evidence. Just Google “systematic review” along with the topic you’re interested in and see what you can find.