Systematic reviews of convalescent plasma in COVID-19 continue to be poorly conducted and reported: a systematic review

J Clin Epidemiol. 2022 Nov;151:53-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2022.07.005. Epub 2022 Aug 4.


Objectives: To suggest possible approaches to combatting the impact of the COVID-19 infodemic to prevent research waste in future health emergencies and in everyday research and practice.

Study design and setting: Systematic review. The Epistemonikos database was searched in June 2021 for systematic reviews on the effectiveness of convalescent plasma for COVID-19. Two reviewers independently screened the retrieved references with disagreements resolved by discussion. Data extraction was completed by one reviewer with a proportion checked by a second. We used the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews to assess the quality of conduct and reporting of included reviews.

Results: Fifty one systematic reviews are included with 193 individual studies included within the systematic reviews. There was considerable duplication of effort; multiple reviews were conducted at the same time with inconsistencies in the evidence included. The reviews were of low methodological quality, poorly reported, and did not adhere to preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analysis guidance.

Conclusion: Researchers need to conduct, appraise, interpret, and disseminate systematic reviews better. All in the research community (researchers, peer-reviewers, journal editors, funders, decision makers, clinicians, journalists, and the public) need to work together to facilitate the conduct of robust systematic reviews that are published and communicated in a timely manner, reducing research duplication and waste, increasing transparency and accessibility of all systematic reviews.

Keywords: COVID-19; Convalescent plasma; Infodemic; Research waste; Solutions; Systematic review.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / therapy
  • Humans