An evaluation of systematic reviews of palliative care services

DM Goodwin, IJ Higginson, AG Edwards, IG Finlay, Alison Cook, K Hood, HR Douglas, CE Normand

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    28 Citations (Scopus)


    This review aimed to identify and appraise all systematic reviews of palliative care services, to examine their findings in relation to methods used, and to explore whether further methods such as meta-analysis and meta-regression may be worthwhile. Ten databases were searched and augmented by hand searching specific journals, contacting authors, and examining the reference lists of all papers retrieved. Five systematic reviews met the inclusion criteria, and the update electronic search identified a further systematic review which found similar studies. A total of 39 studies were identified by the five systematic reviews. Of the 39 studies, 15 were RCTS, and 12 of those were North American. In comparison, the majority of U.K. studies were retrospective. Each review concluded similarly that there was a lack of good quality evidence on which to base conclusions. The more recent reviews were more rigorous, but none used a quantitative analysis. Despite the difficulties in combining heterogeneous interventions and outcomes in meta-analysis or meta-regression, such techniques may be valuable. More high quality evidence is needed to compare the relative merits of the differences in models of palliative care services, so that countries can learn from other appropriate systems of care at end of life.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)77-83
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Palliative Care
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2002


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