Aim: To describe the development of a systematic review protocol that maps the evidence relating to drug manipulations conducted to obtain the required dose. This process included defining a search strategy and methods to assess the quality and to synthesize the evidence retrieved.
Background: Economic constraints mean that marketed formulations may not meet the needs of all patients. Consequently, it is sometimes necessary to manipulate marketed products with the aim of obtaining the required dose. Most clinical practice appears to be guided by ad hoc approaches and informal literature reviews.
Methods: This systematic review protocol has been designed to identify the evidence available on drug manipulation. The review aims to identify what evidence is available and where the gaps appear in the current evidence. This report describes the challenges of developing a systematic review in an area that potentially involves many drugs and considers outcomes other than effectiveness. In particular, searches required the use of non-specific terms and the iterative development of a complex search strategy. The development of quality assessment criteria is also described. Funding commenced in April 2009.
Discussion: The systematic review described here will capture a broad selection of research about drug manipulations and may also be of interest to those conducting reviews in broad remit subject areas that are not easy to define using accepted terminology.
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.