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  • Living systematic reviews

Article

Living systematic reviews

Published

This priority project aims to contribute to an evidence-based management of COVID-19 by developing and continually updating one or more living systematic reviews.

This priority project aims to contribute to an evidence-based management of COVID-19 by developing and continually updating one or more living systematic reviews.


Reviewing evidence is important for formulating knowledge-based initiatives, advice and guides in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many new individual studies concerning COVID-19 are being published and keeping up to date with the relevant knowledge that is available at any one time can be challenging. In addition, published studies are of varying quality, and results are sometimes contradictory. It is therefore a need for reviews which distinguish between certain and less certain knowledge.

Systematic reviews can be useful to answer various types of questions, such as the effect of treatment, positive and negative effects of infection control measures, diagnostic accuracy and prognosis. When research is published rapidly, there is a risk that traditional systematic reviews will quickly become outdated, sometimes even by the time of publication.

About the priority project

The main aim of this project is to produce and maintain one or more living systematic reviews that are important for policy formulation, guidelines and guides in the response to COVID-19. Living systematic reviews are created using the same template as traditional reviews, but are rapidly updated when new and important research becomes available.

During 2020, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health submitted a large number of rapid reviews as a decision-support for recommendations relating to COVID-19. Many of these reviews have already been updated on several occasions. Living systematic reviews from this initiative will be based on a more robust methodology than these rapid reviews. They will be more resource-intensive to produce, but the answers will be more reliable and could be afforded greater weight.

There is a need for systematic reviews in many areas. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health does not have the capacity to produce reviews in all areas, but we will prioritise issues that are important to Norwegian stakeholders and that are not covered by ongoing or planned reviews prepared by others. International cooperation and the distribution of tasks are important both to ensure that the key issues are answered and to avoid duplication.

We aim to start work on a living systematic review on a priority subject area in the beginning of 2021. Depending on the issue that is prioritised, the first version will be published in February/March, with monthly updates from April onwards.

The initiative is linked to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health’s other work relating to systematic reviews concerning COVID-19 and the work on a living map of COVID-19 research. The choice of issue will be coordinated with respect to existing international initiatives, and we will endeavour to recruit partners both nationally and internationally.

Do you have any questions?

Contact Kjetil Brurberg