You might already have a topic and a few questions you want to answer for your systematic review. But before you go any further, be sure to dig a little deeper and consider why you care about this topic. What’s your motivation for conducting this review?
Take kidney failure as an example. Here are just four examples of how your perspective might shape the design of your research:
Let’s say your father was just diagnosed with kidney failure. You might want to conduct a systematic review to learn everything you can about how his condition might affect him: what does the research say about how long patients typically live after they reach your father’s stage of kidney damage? How will this diagnosis affect his quality of life? What treatments work best for patients that are similar to your father?
A health insurance company concerned with kidney failure might have a completely different set of concerns. Because health insurers pay to manage the health of a wide population of people, they might want to know which treatment approaches are most cost effective. They could also be interested in what circumstances make it most likely patients will comply with their treatment protocol. And for preventive care, they might seek more information about ways to catch and treat patients before they reach the stage of kidney failure.
On the next page we’ll present more potential motivations for conducting a systematic review.