Methodological assessment of systematic reviews of in-vitro dental studies

BMC Med Res Methodol. 2022 Apr 13;22(1):110. doi: 10.1186/s12874-022-01575-z.


Background: Systematic reviews of in-vitro studies, like any other study, can be of heterogeneous quality. The present study aimed to evaluate the methodological quality of systematic reviews of in-vitro dental studies.

Methods: We searched for systematic reviews of in-vitro dental studies in PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus databases published up to January 2022. We assessed the methodological quality of the systematic reviews using a modified "A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews" (AMSTAR-2) instrument. The 16 items, in the form of questions, were answered with yes, no, or py (partial yes). Univariable and multivariable linear regression models were used to examine the association between systematic review characteristics and AMSTAR-2 percent score. Overall confidence in the results of the systematic reviews was rated, based on weaknesses identified in critical and non-critical AMSTAR-2 items.

Results: The search retrieved 908 potential documents, and after following the eligibility criteria, 185 systematic reviews were included. The most researched topics were ceramics and dental bonding. The overall rating for the confidence in the results was critically low in 126 (68%) systematic reviews. There was high variability in the response among the AMSTAR-2 items (0% to 75% positively answered). The univariable analyses indicated dental specialty (p = 0.03), number of authors (coef: 1.87, 95% CI: 0.26, 3.47, p = 0.02), and year of publication (coef: 2.64, 95% CI: 1.90, 3.38, p < 0.01) were significantly associated with the AMSTAR-2 percent score. Whereas, in the multivariable analysis only specialty (p = 0.01) and year of publication (coef: 2.60, 95% CI: 1.84, 3.35, p < 0.001) remained significant. Among specialties, endodontics achieved the highest AMSTAR-2 percent score.

Conclusions: The methods of systematic reviews of in vitro dental studies were suboptimal. Year of publication and dental specialty were associated with AMSTAR-2 scores. The overall rating of the confidence in the results was low and critically low for most systematic reviews.

Keywords: AMSTAR-2; In-vitro; Methodological study; Methodology; Methods; Systematic reviews.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bibliometrics
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Research Design*
  • Research Report*
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic