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Fundamentals of Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses for End Users

Course Description

This site contains an online course materials that are designed to teach end users of systematic reviews (with or without meta-analysis) regarding the principles, utility and methodologies of qualitative and quantitative evidence synthesis.

End users of systematic reviews are all decision-makers for whom the systematic review result is pertinent, including public health practitioners, policy-makers, program administrators, and government officials. Those who use systematic reviews for decision-making should understand the design and reporting of systematic reviews (with or without meta-analysis) in order to overcome barriers to incorporating findings from high quality systematic reviews into decision-making.

In addition to the reading assignments, the online course is consisted of interactive virtual class time, hands-on exercises and online discussion forum activities. Only the reading assignments and lecture portions (PowerPoint slides) of the virtual classes are posted on this site. Short recordings of key messages from the virtual classes are forthcoming.

Learning Objectives

  • Be able to describe the steps of a systematic review.
  • Be able to critically appraise the quality of a systematic review (with or without meta-analysis).
  • Understand the utility of high quality systematic reviews.
  • Understand strengths and limitations of study-level meta-analysis.
  • Be able to distinguish between clinical and methodological diversity and statistical heterogeneity.
  • Understand how to explore between-study heterogeneity in a meta-analysis.
  • Understand what meta-regression is and why it is useful.

Discussion Topics

  1. Overview, structure, and methodologies of a systematic review & utility of published systematic reviews
  2. Qualitative synthesis methods and tools & challenges of meta-analysis in public health
  3. Introduction to meta-analysis- focusing on heterogeneity
  4. Tools for assessing the quality of a systematic review (with or without meta-analysis)

This course is being offered free of cost, thanks to sponsorship from the Washington DC Section of IFT.

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