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Experts discuss applying systematic review to the field of nutrition
Date:12/2/2008

. Therefore, when performing a systematic review, it is particularly important to document methods of assessment."

Equally important, the authors write, is the documentation of new data as it emerges, as well as objectivity. Objectivity of a systematic review comes from individuals trained in systematic review methodologies, such as co-author Joseph Lau, MD, director of the Tufts Evidence-based Practice Center at the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts Medical Center. "To be involved in a systematic review, I must be free of personal biases or vested interest in a particular outcome. I focus on the methodology and look to my colleagues for their nutrition expertise," says Lau, also a professor at Tufts University School of Medicine.

The process of performing a systematic review begins with clearly defining the research question. Lichtenstein, the Stanley N. Gershoff professor at Tufts' Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and colleagues advocate the "PICO" approach to formulating research questions. The acronym PICO stands for Population (participants), Intervention (or exposure for observational studies), Comparator and Outcome."

"While systematic reviews cannot replace expert judgment and should not be used as a sole source of information for developing science-based recommendations and policies, they are valuable tools that can be adapted effectively for use in the field of nutrition," says Lichtenstein.


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Contact: Andrea Grossman
617-636-3728
Tufts University, Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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