The evolution of a new publication type: Steps and challenges of producing overviews of reviews



Background: To date, the Cochrane Child Health Field has published 18 overviews of reviews in our journal, Evidence-based Child Health: A Cochrane Review Journal. In this article, we highlight some of the logistical and methodological challenges of producing such syntheses. As this is a new and evolving publication type, we hope that our experience will benefit others who engage in this process. Current Methods: We discuss the process we have developed to produce overviews of reviews relevant to our mandate, including identification of the research question, establishment of the author team, selection of outcomes and included SRs, and presentation of findings. Ongoing Development: We discuss the lessons we have learned, outstanding challenges for overview authors, and the limitations of overviews. Conclusions: Overviews of reviews are only as good as the SRs and primary studies on which they are based; gaps or lack of currency in this evidence will weaken the overview of reviews. Future directions in this work must address questions of bias and loss of information. Methods for overviews of reviews targeted for specific groups, such as children, need more elaboration. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.