Knowledge Synthesis in Evidence-Based Medicine.


Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Methods Centre, Ottawa, Canada. Electronic address: [Email]


Systematic reviews are the most common form of knowledge synthesis and remain a cornerstone of the practice of evidence-based medicine. They offer enhanced rigor and validity relative to traditional narrative review articles by reducing bias and increasing objectivity. In answering focused research questions, systematic reviews are directly applicable to clinical practice as well as the development of clinical guidelines and the identification of knowledge gaps, which may drive future primary research directions. Typically, such a rigorous process necessarily requires substantive time to carefully and systematically identify, screen, and synthesize all relevant available primary research on a topic. Further, other knowledge synthesis methods have emerged to address the varying needs of decision makers with respect to condensed timelines and more diverse research questions, as well as to allow incorporation of already synthesized evidence into reviews. These alternative methods include rapid reviews, scoping reviews, and overviews of systematic reviews, which are being used with increasing frequency by clinicians, decision-makers, and researchers. We encourage clinicians and researchers in nuclear medicine and other imaging sciences to acquire a greater familiarity with these methods and to consider them in clinical decision making, the development of clinical guidelines, and the planning of future research activities.

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