Frequently Asked Questions About Our Systematic Reviews

What is a systematic review?

Systematic reviews are comprehensive reports that aim to evaluate and summarize existing research evidence to advance our understanding of the effectiveness and safety of particular health care interventions. Systematic reviews differ from other reviews based on the explicit and transparent methodology used to identify, appraise, and synthesize research studies to answer specified key questions. Based on their rigorous methodology, systematic reviews reflect one of the highest standards in evidence-based health care and directly inform clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) [ Reference 1 ]. The standards for conducting systematic reviews have been outlined by the IOM, Cochrane, and other organizations.

How are systematic reviews used?

Systematic reviews are a key component in the knowledge translation process and the practice of evidence-based medicine. Systematic reviews can be used by front-line clinicians, as well as health care decision-makers to determine the most effective treatments or methods of care delivery. Clinical guideline developers use systematic reviews to translate research study findings into evidence-based health care guidelines that promote optimal clinical care. Systematic reviews are also used to identify gaps in the evidence base to inform further research on particular topics.

How does DHCC produce systematic reviews?

DHCC conducts and manages a suite of systematic review products to provide up-to-date and unbiased conclusions on psychological health topics to promote evidence-based care in the MHS. Systematic reviews are produced using a team of investigators who apply transparent, systematic, and rigorous methods to address specified key questions. DHCC solicits topic nominations for systematic reviews throughout the year. Because they can be very resource-intensive, DHCC sponsors Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPC) to conduct many of the systematic reviews.

What is an Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC)?

EPCs are designated by AHRQ’s Evidence-based Practice Program to produce high-quality, unbiased reports and assessments on relevant healthcare topics. DHCC currently sponsors the RAND Corporation Southern California EPC.