Five top medical journals publish research guidelines developed in Ottawa

July 21, 2009

An international group led by Dr. David Moher of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) and the University of Ottawa has today released guidelines to improve how highly influential reviews of medical and health research are reported. The guidelines address systematic reviews and meta-analyses, which are considered the ‘gold standard’ of medical evidence because they systematically combine and summarize all research from around the world on a given topic.

“Systematic reviews and meta-analyses frequently form the basis for clinical decisions, but evidence suggests that in many cases these reviews are conducted and reported poorly,” said Dr. Moher, a Senior Scientist at OHRI and Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Ottawa. “Our guideline will help ensure that all relevant information is included in these reviews, so that better and more informed health decisions can be made.”

The guideline is called the PRISMA Statement (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) and it is published in Annals of Internal Medicine, PLoS Medicine, Open Medicine, the British Medical Journal and the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. Among other things, it includes a 27-item checklist and flow chart to follow when reporting a systematic review or meta-analysis.

“The PRISMA Statement will promote more complete and transparent presentation of syntheses of research findings,” said Dr. Ian Graham, Vice President, Knowledge Translation at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). “The Group’s work in developing these guidelines is an important international contribution to improving the quality of health research.”

“By improving the reporting and hopefully the conduct of synthesis and meta-analysis research, this work will also improve decision making by clinicians, policy makers and the public by providing them with important information on which to judge the quality and potential usefulness of the health information they are considering,” Dr. Graham added.

Dr. Moher and his colleagues are encouraging medical journals and editorial groups to endorse the PRISMA Statement and include it in their publishing instructions for authors. More than 2,500 systematic reviews are published in English every year.

Development of the PRISMA Statement was funded by CIHR; Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy; Cancer Research UK; Clinical Evidence BMJ Knowledge; the Cochrane Collaboration; and GlaxoSmithKline, Canada. For more information, see

About the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and is an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, closely associated with the University’s Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. The OHRI includes more than 1,300 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease.

About the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to catalyze its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health-care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 13,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

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