Potential value of systematic reviews of qualitative evidence in informing user-centred health and social care: findings from a descriptive overview

Jane Dalton, Andrew Booth, Jane Noyes, Amanda J Sowden

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Systematic reviews of quantitative evidence are well-established in health and social care. Systematic reviews of qualitative evidence are increasingly available, but volume, topics covered, methods used and reporting quality are largely unknown. We provide a descriptive overview of systematic reviews of qualitative evidence assessing health and social care interventions included on the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE).

STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: We searched DARE for reviews published between 1(st) January 2009 and 31st December 2014. We extracted data on review content and methods, summarised narratively and explored patterns over time.

RESULTS: We identified 145 systematic reviews conducted worldwide (64 in the UK). Interventions varied, but largely covered treatment or service delivery in community and hospital settings. There were no discernible patterns over time. Critical appraisal of primary studies was conducted routinely. Most reviews were poorly reported.

CONCLUSION: Potential exists to use systematic reviews of qualitative evidence when driving forward user-centred health and social care. We identify where more research is needed and propose ways to improve review methodology and reporting. Word count: 175.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-33
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Early online date24 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2017


  • evidence synthesis;
  • qualitative research
  • systematic review
  • overview

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