The nature of systematic reviews has changed over the years and significant progress has been made regarding what constitutes appropriate evidence for inclusion in a review. Increasingly, these reviews are used to answer a broad range of questions for health professionals. Traditionally, the evidence based practice movement has focussed on the results of quantitative evidence (considering the RCT as the gold standard) to answer questions of effectiveness. However, the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) has as its central focus not only effectiveness, but also appropriateness, meaningfulness and feasibility of health practices and delivery methods. These questions are often answered by considering other forms of research evidence.
The JBI regards the results of well-designed research studies grounded in any methodological position as providing more credible evidence that anecdotes or personal opinion. However, when no research evidence exists, expert opinion can be seen to represent the ”best available” evidence.
In line with this broader view of evidence, the Institute has developed theories, methodologies and rigorous processes for the critical appraisal and synthesis of these diverse forms of evidence in order to aid in clinical decision-making in health care. These processes relate to the synthesis of quantitative evidence, qualitative evidence, the results of economic analyses and expert opinion and text.
JBI systematic reviews begin with the development of a proposal or protocol that is peer reviewed and approved by the Institute. A rigorous and extensive search of the international literature on a given topic is undertaken, which are then assessed for their applicability to the topic and appraised using standardised tools to ensure that only the results of the highest quality research are included. Two trained JBI reviewers complete this process and where disagreements occur a third reviewer is consulted. Once this process is complete, the results are combined and published in a report.