Qualitative research synthesis: methodological guidance for systematic reviewers utilizing meta-aggregation

Int J Evid Based Healthc. 2015 Sep;13(3):179-87. doi: 10.1097/XEB.0000000000000062.


Qualitative synthesis informs important aspects of evidence-based healthcare, particularly within the practical decision-making contexts that health professionals work in. Of the qualitative methodologies available for synthesis, meta-aggregation is most transparently aligned with accepted conventions for the conduct of high-quality systematic reviews. Meta-aggregation is philosophically grounded in pragmatism and transcendental phenomenology. The essential characteristics of a meta-aggregative review are that the reviewer avoids re-interpretation of included studies, but instead accurately and reliably presents the findings of the included studies as intended by the original authors. This study reports on the methodology and methods of meta-aggregation within the structure of an a priori protocol and standardized frameworks for reporting of results by over-viewing the essential components of a systematic review report.

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / organization & administration*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / standards
  • Guidelines as Topic / standards*
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Research Design / standards*
  • Review Literature as Topic*