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Table 1 Types of reviews

From: What kind of systematic review should I conduct? A proposed typology and guidance for systematic reviewers in the medical and health sciences

Review Type


Question Format

Question Example


To evaluate the effectiveness of a certain treatment/practice in terms of its impact on outcomes

Population, Intervention, Comparator/s, Outcomes

(PICO) [23]

What is the effectiveness of exercise for treating depression in adults compared to no treatment or a comparison treatment? [69]

Experiential (Qualitative)

To investigate the experience or meaningfulness of a particular phenomenon

Population, Phenomena of Interest, Context (PICo) [13]

What is the experience of undergoing high technology medical imaging (such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging) in adult patients in high income countries? [70]

Costs/Economic Evaluation

To determine the costs associated with a particular approach/treatment strategy, particularly in terms of cost effectiveness or benefit

Population, Intervention, Comparator/s, Outcomes,

Context (PICOC) [14]

What is the cost effectiveness of self-monitoring of blood glucose in type 2 diabetes mellitus in high income countries? [71]

Prevalence and/or Incidence

To determine the prevalence and/or incidence of a certain condition

Condition, Context,

Population (CoCoPop) [15]

What is the prevalence/incidence of claustrophobia and claustrophobic reactions in adult patients undergoing MRI? [72]

Diagnostic Test Accuracy

To determine how well a diagnostic test works in terms of its sensitivity and specificity for a particular diagnosis

Population, Index Test,

Reference Test, Diagnosis of Interest (PIRD) [16]

What is the diagnostic test accuracy of nutritional tools (such as the Malnutrition Screening Tool) compared to the Patient Generated Subjective Global Assessment amongst patients with colorectal cancer to identify undernutrition? [73]

Etiology and/or Risk

To determine the association between particular exposures/risk factors and outcomes

Population, Exposure,

Outcome (PEO) [17]

Are adults exposed to radon at risk for developing lung cancer? [74]

Expert opinion/policy

To review and synthesize current expert opinion, text or policy on a certain phenomena

Population, Intervention or Phenomena of Interest,

Context (PICo) [18]

What are the policy strategies to reduce maternal mortality in pregnant and birthing women in Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka? [75]


To evaluate the psychometric properties of a certain test, normally to determine how the reliability and validity of a particular test or assessment.

Construct of interest or the name of the measurement instrument(s), Population,

Type of measurement instrument, Measurement properties [31, 32]

What is the reliability, validity, responsiveness and interpretability of methods (manual muscle testing, isokinetic dynamometry, hand held dynamometry) to assess muscle strength in adults? [76]


To determine the overall prognosis for a condition, the link between specific prognostic factors and an outcome and/or prognostic/prediction models and prognostic tests.

Population, Prognostic Factors (or models of interest), Outcome

(PFO) [20, 34,35,36]

In adults with low back pain, what is the association between individual recovery expectations and disability outcomes? [77]


To examine and investigate current research methods and potentially their impact on research quality.

Types of Studies, Types of Data, Types of Methods, Outcomes [39] (SDMO)

What is the effect of masked (blind) peer review for quantitative studies in terms of the study quality as reported in published reports? (question modified from Jefferson 2007) [40]