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Keywords:

  • Systematic reviews;
  • decision making;
  • databases;
  • knowledge translation

Context: Barriers to the use of systematic reviews by policymakers may be overcome by resources that adapt and present the findings in formats more directly tailored to their needs. We performed a systematic scoping review to identify such knowledge-translation resources and evaluations of them.

Methods: Resources were eligible for inclusion in this study if they were based exclusively or primarily on systematic reviews and were aimed at health care policymakers at the national or local level. Resources were identified by screening the websites of health technology assessment agencies and systematic review producers, supplemented by an email survey. Electronic databases and proceedings of the Cochrane Colloquium and HTA International were searched as well for published and unpublished evaluations of knowledge-translation resources. Resources were classified as summaries, overviews, or policy briefs using a previously published classification.

Findings: Twenty knowledge-translation resources were identified, of which eleven were classified as summaries, six as overviews, and three as policy briefs. Resources added value to systematic reviews by, for example, evaluating their methodological quality or assessing the reliability of their conclusions or their generalizability to particular settings. The literature search found four published evaluation studies of knowledge-translation resources, and the screening of abstracts and contact with authors found three more unpublished studies. The majority of studies reported on the perceived usefulness of the service, although there were some examples of review-based resources being used to assist actual decision making.

Conclusions: Systematic review producers provide a variety of resources to help policymakers, of which focused summaries are the most common. More evaluations of these resources are required to ensure users’ needs are being met, to demonstrate their impact, and to justify their funding.