Mapping of reporting guidance for systematic reviews and meta-analyses generated a comprehensive item bank for future reporting guidelines

J Clin Epidemiol. 2020 Feb;118:60-68. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2019.11.010. Epub 2019 Nov 15.


Objectives: The aim of the study was to generate a comprehensive bank of systematic review (SR) reporting items to inform an update of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) 2009 statement.

Methods: We searched the Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research Network library in May 2019 to identify all reporting guidelines for SRs that were published after 2009, regardless of the scope of the guideline. We also conducted a selective review of four guidance manuals for SRs, three tools for assessing the risk of bias in SRs, six meta-research studies evaluating the reporting quality of SRs using a tailored checklist, and five reporting guidelines for other study designs. One author screened and selected sources for inclusion, extracted reporting guidance from sources, and mapped guidance against the PRISMA 2009 checklist items.

Results: We included 60 sources providing guidance on reporting of SRs and meta-analyses. From these, we collated a list of 221 unique reporting items. Items were categorized into title (four items), abstract (10 items), introduction (12 items), methods (111 items), results (61 items), discussion (12 items), funding and conflicts of interest (four items), administrative information (three items), and data availability (four items). This exercise generated 175 reporting items that could be added to the guidance in the PRISMA 2009 statement.

Conclusion: Generation of a comprehensive item bank through review and mapping of the literature facilitates identification of missing items and those needing modification, which may not otherwise be identified by the guideline development team or from other activities commonly used to develop reporting guidelines.

Keywords: Methodology; Quality; Reporting; Systematic reviews.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Checklist
  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • Publishing / standards
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic*