Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University


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Challenges in Systematic Reviews: Synthesis of Topics Related to the Delivery, Organization, and Financing of Health Care

Journal Article

Dena M. Bravata
Kathryn M. McDonald - Stanford University
KG Shojania
Vandana Sundaram - Stanford University
Douglas K. Owens - Stanford University

Published by
Annals of Internal Medicine, supplement on "Challenges of Summarizing Better Information for Better Health", Vol. 142 no. 12, page(s) 1056-1065
June 21, 2005

Some important health policy topics, such as those related to the delivery, organization, and financing of health care, present substantial challenges to established methods for evidence synthesis. For example, such reviews may ask: What is the effect of for-profit versus not-for-profit delivery of care on patient outcomes? Or, which strategies are the most effective for promoting preventive care? This paper desc ribes innovative methods for synthesizing evidence related to the delivery, organization, and financing of health care. We found 13 systematic reviews on these topics that described novel methodologic approaches. Several of these syntheses used 3 approaches: conceptual frameworks to inform problem formulation, systematic searches that included nontraditional literature sources, and hybrid synthesis methods that included simulations to address key gaps in the literature. As the primary literature on these topics expands, so will opportunities to develop additional novel methods for performing high-quality comprehensive syntheses.