Collecting data from relevant studies

 

Read Section 7.5 of the Reviewers’ Handbook

Part Three of a Data Collection Form:
Qualitative Information about the Study – The Table of Included Studies

Section 7.5 of the Reviewers’ Handbook outlines this part of the data collection form, but in summary, the information we need to take from the studies to complete this part of the review is the description of the study, in particular its participants, interventions and outcomes. This information will be used to complete the Table of Included Studies, which has a section also for methods, but it may be best to leave this until after the quality assessment is completed (we will cover that in Part Four). The Table of Included Studies is an important part of a systematic review as it is here that the reader can find detailed information about the included study and interpret the results of the review. It may also provide information about why the results of some included studies differ from others.

Find a “Table of Included Studies” on the Cochrane Library and familiarize yourself with it It may be worthwhile familiarising yourself with a Table of Included Studies by finding a review on The Cochrane Library you are interested in and going to the “Characteristics of Included Studies” section, then follow the link to the Table.

The types of information needed to complete this part of the review are well described in the Reviewers’ Handbook, but some hints to make things easier when data are entered later into RevMan are

  • be consistent in the order and style you use to describe the information (for example when extracting information about participants, start with sample size, then diagnostic description, then demographic information etc). This will make it easier to complete the Table of Included Studies, prevent you from overlooking information and make reading of the review easier.
  • highlight any missing information as unclear or not described to make it clear to the reader of your review that the information was not included in the description of the study, not that you forgot to extract it
  • record any additional, study specific information (for example that the report of the study was translated from a language other than English, or that it was a duplicate publication) in the notes section.