Systematic reviews aim to answer a single research question.
There are many mnemonics available to assist you to formulate a search strategy based on the type of review you are undertaking and the kind of question you are asking.
|PICO(S)||Population - Intervention - Comparator - Outcome - (Study design)||Reviews of effectiveness|
|PICo||Population - Phenomena of Interest - Context||Qualitative reviews
Expert opinion / Policy
|PEO||Population - Exposure - Outcome||Aetiology and Risk|
|CoCoPop||Condition - Context - Popuation||Prevalence and Incidence|
|PIRD||Population - Index test - Reference test - Diagnosis of interest||Diagnostic test accuracy|
|PCC||Population - Concept - Context||Scoping reviews|
|PICOC||Population - Intervention - Comparator(s) - Outcome - Context||Costs / Economic evaluation|
|CPIMP||Construct of interest - Population - Type of measurement instrument - Measurement properties||Psychometric|
|PFO||Population - Prognostic Factors - Outcome||Prognostic|
Use the above mnemonics to construct your research question and break down your search strategy. Remember that equal emphasis may not be put on each part of the mnemonic, and will largely depend on the topic of your systematic review.
|Population||How would I describe a patient/problem/situation similar to mine?|
|Intervention||Which main intervention am I considering?|
|Comparison||What is the main alternative?|
|Outcome||What could this intervention accomplish, measure, improve or affect?|
|Study design||Which study design will best answer my question?|
It is important to be aware of whether other systematic reviews answering your research question or similar research questions, have already been conducted or are in process. This will help avoid duplication of effort and resources as well as be a guide in terms of the construction of your search strategy.
To locate existing systematic reviews you can try:
It is highly recommended that you register or publish your systematic review protocol prior to undertaking the review. This:
For systematic reviews related to health sciences, PROSPERO is a highly respected international review register. Some journals also provide scope to publish systematic review protocols in other subject areas.