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Systematic Review

The systematic Review is a tool used to summarize, evaluate, and communicate the results of a large quantity of research in order to answer a specific research question. The systematic review process uses explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view to minimizing bias, thus providing more reliable findings from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions made (Antman 1992, Oxman 1993). Examples of past topics include; trends in abdominal aortic aneurysm surgical procedures and outcomes, statins in peripheral artery disease, trends in colorectal surgical procedures and outcomes, and non-surgical management of peripheral artery disease.

The key characteristics of a systematic review are:
  • a clearly stated set of objectives with pre-defined eligibility criteria for studies;
  • an explicit, reproducible methodology;
  • a systematic search that attempts to identify all studies that would meet the eligibility criteria;
  • an assessment of the validity of the findings of the included studies, for example through the assessment of risk of bias; and
  • a systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies.
A systematic review is an exciting yet time consuming project that will take longer than the 6-8 weeks to complete.  As a result, some of the work is completed pre-arrival.  For example, participants are encouraged to identify their systematic review question prior to arrival in Canada.  Support and guidance is provided on how to write a clear and concise systematic review question.  In addition, participants complete a series of online modules before the program begins.
 
During their time in Canada, participants attend weekly systematic review seminars, complete the remaining interactive online modules, and compile a time line for finishing the review from home. The systematic review is completed within a 4 month timeframe to ensure the information collected for the review is current and relevant. The instructors ensure that participants have the skills, support, and resources required to complete the systematic review within the 4 month timeframe.
 
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