A systematic review is a scholarly synthesis of the evidence on a clearly presented topic using critical methods to identify, define and assess research on the topic. A systematic review extracts and interprets data from published studies on the topic, then analyzes, describes, and summarizes interpretations into a refined conclusion. For example, a systematic review of randomized controlled trials is a way of summarizing and implementing evidence-based medicine.
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While a systematic review may be applied in the biomedical or health care context, it may also be used where an assessment of a precisely defined subject can advance understanding in a field of research. A systematic review may examine clinical tests, public health interventions, environmental interventions, social interventions, adverse effects, qualitative evidence syntheses, methodological reviews, policy reviews, and economic evaluations.
An understanding of systematic reviews and how to implement them in practice is common for professionals in health care, public health, and public policy.