Critical appraisal of systematic reviews
A well-performed systematic review is a reliable source of evidence, that brings together the complete body of research on a specific question. It is a very efficient source of evidence, as it saves the reader time and expertise required to locate, appraise, and interpret the findings. However, as a reader, how do you know a review is well-performed and of high quality?
A tool to assess the methodological quality of systematic reviews of interventions is AMSTAR 2 (A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews 2) (Shea 2007; Shea 2017). It contains 16 items for a broad assessment of the quality, including flaws related to poor conduct of the review (with unknown impact on findings). Recently, another instrument was developed to critically appraise systematic review. ROBIS (the Risk Of Bias In Systematic reviews) covers various types of research questions (including diagnostic, prognostic and etiologic). Although ROBIS focuses specifically on the risk of bias introduced by the conduct of the review (instead of the broad quality assessment by AMSTAR), there is overlap in the items considered by the two tools.