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Conducting umbrella reviews
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  • Published on:
    Are not umbrealla reviews the same as overviews of reviews?
    • Dawid Pieper, Professor Institute for Health Services and Health System Research, Brandenburg Medical School, Germany
    • Other Contributors:
      • Carole Lunny, Post-Doc researcher
      • Ricardo Fernandes, consultant pediatrician and assistant professor
      • Lisa Hartling, Professor

    We read with great interest the article on ‘Conducting umbrella reviews’. In our view, it is important to highlight that what is described as ‘umbrella reviews’ in this article is often referred to as ‘overviews (of reviews)’, and shares similar definitions and goals, namely to synthesise evidence at the systematic review-level. The term ‘overviews of reviews’ is employed by Cochrane, a leading international organization for evidence synthesis. The corresponding chapter in the Cochrane handbook (1) was revised a few years ago and provides a summary of methods research for this type of evidence synthesis along with recommendations for conducting overviews of reviews. Although this has been prepared for Cochrane, we think that the vast majority of the content can also be used outside Cochrane and for a range of research questions. It provides guidance for topics not mentioned in your article such as dealing with overlapping primary studies across reviews on the same topic, decision tools supporting the inclusion of reviews, and updating reviews by conducting supplemental searches for primary studies. Most importantly, in the article by Belbasis et al. there is no explicit mention of assessing the quality or risk of bias of the included reviews and there is no mention of the recently published reporting guideline for overviews of reviews of healthcare interventions (2).

    A large body of research by many evidence synthesis groups over the past 10+ years exists to advan...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    CL, RF, LH, and DP declare that they have performed methodological work on overviews of reviews. All four are authors of the PRIOR reporting guideline. RF, LH and DP are authors of the chapter on overviews of reviews in the Cochrane handbook.