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Table 6 Comparison of steps 1–5: major challenges and solutions in case studies A and B

From: Use of existing systematic reviews for evidence assessments in infectious disease prevention: a comparative case study

Step number Description Case study A: neurological sequelae of neonatal sepsis Case study B: influenza vaccination during pregnancy
Challenges Solutions Challenges Solutions
1 Locate existing systematic reviews Need to restrict search results to SRs Use of search filters Relevant SRs can be part of overarching SRs Widening of the search strategy to more unspecific topics (e.g., “healthy adults”)
2 Assess relevance of the existing reviews Non-retrievable references in relevant SR Reporting of this finding in the new SR PICO alone not sufficient to assess relevance Construction of additional spreadsheets comparing characteristics of SRs and included individual studies
3 Assess quality of existing reviews Value of AMSTAR summary score not known AMSTAR summary score of 7/11 reported and judged as “acceptable” Value of AMSTAR summary score not known AMSTAR summary scores of 9/11–11/11 reported and judged as “appropriate”
4 Determine appropriate use and incorporate existing reviews Numbers and risk of bias not reported in SR New data extraction from individual studies and risk of bias assessment Different risk of bias tools used in the relevant SRs New risk of bias assessment with a defined tool
5 Report methods and results from using existing reviews Aggregated data and quantitative synthesis from SR not appropriate Summary of data from the individual studies and conduct of new meta-analysis Heterogeneity of study characteristics and results Narrative data summary, results of individual studies in tables, no meta-analysis
  1. SR systematic review