Systematic Reviews in Burns Care: Poor Quality and Getting Worse

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The objective of this article is to investigate adherence to reporting standards and methodological quality in systematic reviews on burns care published in peer-reviewed journals to determine their utility for guiding evidence-based burns care. PubMed, Embase, Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports were searched from 2009. Any systematic review on any question on therapeutic interventions in burns care was eligible for inclusion. Critical appraisal and data extraction were performed using the Assessing the Methodological Quality of Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) tool and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) checklist by two independent reviewers. The overall quality of the 44 included burns care systematic reviews was low, with an average methodological quality of 55% and an average compliance with reporting guidelines of 70%. Correlation analysis showed that adherence to reporting guidelines has been relatively stable, but methodological quality has deteriorated (r = −.32, P < .05). Cochrane reviews had lower citation rates than reviews published in other journals, whereas reviews that included meta-analyses had more citations. Quality did not have a significant effect on citation rate. Health professionals working in burns should be able to expect that systematic reviews published in their field are of a high standard. Unfortunately, this is not the case. To address this problem, established guidelines on the conduct and reporting of systematic reviews should be adhered to by researchers and editors.

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