Poor methodological quality and reporting standards of systematic reviews in burn care management Academic Article uri icon


  • The methodological and reporting quality of burn-specific systematic reviews has not been established. The aim of this study was to evaluate the methodological quality of systematic reviews in burn care management. Computerised searches were performed in Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid EMBASE and The Cochrane Library through to February 2016 for systematic reviews relevant to burn care using medical subject and free-text terms such as 'burn', 'systematic review' or 'meta-analysis'. Additional studies were identified by hand-searching five discipline-specific journals. Two authors independently screened papers, extracted and evaluated methodological quality using the 11-item A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) tool and reporting quality using the 27-item Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) checklist. Characteristics of systematic reviews associated with methodological and reporting quality were identified. Descriptive statistics and linear regression identified features associated with improved methodological quality. A total of 60 systematic reviews met the inclusion criteria. Six of the 11 AMSTAR items reporting on 'a priori' design, duplicate study selection, grey literature, included/excluded studies, publication bias and conflict of interest were reported in less than 50% of the systematic reviews. Of the 27 items listed for PRISMA, 13 items reporting on introduction, methods, results and the discussion were addressed in less than 50% of systematic reviews. Multivariable analyses showed that systematic reviews associated with higher methodological or reporting quality incorporated a meta-analysis (AMSTAR regression coefficient 2.1; 95% CI: 1.1, 3.1; PRISMA regression coefficient 6·3; 95% CI: 3·8, 8·7) were published in the Cochrane library (AMSTAR regression coefficient 2·9; 95% CI: 1·6, 4·2; PRISMA regression coefficient 6·1; 95% CI: 3·1, 9·2) and included a randomised control trial (AMSTAR regression coefficient 1·4; 95%CI: 0·4, 2·4; PRISMA regression coefficient 3·4; 95% CI: 0·9, 5·8). The methodological and reporting quality of systematic reviews in burn care requires further improvement with stricter adherence by authors to the PRISMA checklist and AMSTAR tool.

publication date

  • 2017