Systematic reviews should only be updated to improve the certainty of evidence, duplication should be avoided

A recent editorial published in the Journal of Physiotherapy explored issues around the updating systematic reviews. The Cochrane Collaboration’s Panel for Updating Guidance for Systematic Reviews Group defines an update as a new edition of an existing review that can include new methods, new analyses or new data. Updates should only be performed in order to improve the certainty of the evidence, by changing the findings or credibility of the review. Unnecessary updates should be avoided because they are a duplication of effort, add to volume of evidence which needs to be considered, and could cause confusion because of differing conclusions. One way to avoid this duplication of effort is for the protocols of systematic reviews to be registered prospectively. Two databases which provide for registration of systematic reviews are PROSPERO and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Elkins MR. Updating systematic reviews (editorial). J Physiother 2018;64(1):1-3

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