Keeping up to date with the best evidence on treatment interventions is an essential part of clinical practice, but it can seem an overwhelming task for busy clinicians. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses provide a useful and convenient summary of knowledge and form an essential part of an evidence-based approach to clinical practice. However, these reviews vary in methodology and therefore in the quality of the recommendations they provide. Clinicians need to feel confident in their skills of critical appraisal, so that they can assess the relative merits of systematic reviews. In this article we discuss the strengths and limitations of different types of evidence synthesis to enable the reader to feel more confident in assessing the scientific information to use in clinical practice.
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