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Finding What Works in Health Care: Standards for Systematic Reviews
cal practice guidelines (CPGs). The report was followed by a congressional mandate in the Medicare Improvements for Patients andProviders Act of 2008 for two follow-up IOM studies: one to develop standards for conducting SRs, and the other to develop standards for CPGs. This is the report of the IOM Committee on Standards for Systematic Reviews of Comparative Effectiveness Research. A companion report by the IOM Committee on Standards for Developing Trustworthy Clinical Practice Guidelines is being released in conjunction with this report.
The charge to this IOM committee was twofold: first, to assess potential methodological standards that would assure objective, transparent, and scientifically valid SRs of CER and, second, to recommend a set of methodological standards for developing and reporting such SRs (Box S-1). The boundaries of this study were defined in part by the work of the companion CPG study. The SR committee limited its focus to the development of SRs. At the same time, the CPG committee worked under the assumption that guideline developers have access to and use high-quality SRs (as defined by the standards recommended in this report).
This report presents methodological standards for SRs that are designed to inform everyday healthcare decision making, especially for patients, clinicians and other healthcare providers, and devel-
Charge to the Committee on Standardsfor Systematic Reviews of ComparativeEffectiveness Research
An ad hoc committee will conduct a study to recommend methodological standards for systematic reviews (SRs) of comparative effectiveness research (CER) on health and health care. The standards should ensure that the reviews are objective, transparent, and scientifically valid, and require a common language for characterizing the strength of the evidence. Decision makers should be able to rely on SRs of comparative effectiveness to determine what is known and not known and to describe the extent to which the evidence is applicable to clinical practice and particular patients. In this context, the committee will:
Assess whether, if widely adopted, any existing set of standards would assure that SRs of comparative effectiveness research are objective, transparent, and scientifically valid.
Recommend a set of standards for developing and reporting SRs of CER.