Synthesis without meta-analysis (SWiM) in systematic reviews: reporting guideline

BMJ. 2020 Jan 16:368:l6890. doi: 10.1136/bmj.l6890.


In systematic reviews that lack data amenable to meta-analysis, alternative synthesis methods are commonly used, but these methods are rarely reported. This lack of transparency in the methods can cast doubt on the validity of the review findings. The Synthesis Without Meta-analysis (SWiM) guideline has been developed to guide clear reporting in reviews of interventions in which alternative synthesis methods to meta-analysis of effect estimates are used. This article describes the development of the SWiM guideline for the synthesis of quantitative data of intervention effects and presents the nine SWiM reporting items with accompanying explanations and examples.

Publication types

  • Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Accuracy
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care* / methods
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care* / standards
  • Research Design / standards*
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic*