Step 8: Interpret the Results

When describing review findings, the results of all analyses should be considered as a whole, and overall coherence discussed. Results should always be interpreted in relation to biological plausibility. Consistency across studies should be considered and sources of heterogeneity discussed, any heterogeneity not explained or accounted for by the tested variables should be acknowledged.


The degree to which the findings can be generalised beyond the specific experimental conditions of the included studies should also be considered when interpreting the results of your systematic review. This is known as external validity and relates to factors such as testing a drug at a clinically relevant time point, in an appropriate disease model, and in an animal population relevant to the clinical demographic.


As with primary studies, emphasis should not necessarily be placed on statistical significance of results but on effect sizes, related confidence intervals, and biological significance.



References & Resources:

Centre for Reviews and Dissemination University of York, UK


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