Evidence Synthesis is helpful because it can:
- Help with information overload
As the rate of medical research continues to climb, it’s impossible to keep up with the latest findings. Evidence synthesis combines all available information into a digestible and useable format and determines which studies are rigorous enough to be included in the review of research about a particular topic.
- Combine small studies together for more powerful findings
A small research study might lack enough participants or evidence to distinguish signal from noise, but when it’s put in context with other similar studies, it can help paint a larger picture. For instance, a study of 20 people may be too small to establish a relationship between practicing meditation and decreasing blood pressure, but if multiple studies show a similar effect, the evidence is more compelling.
- Describe variation and explain apparent discrepancies in existing research
Are there really health benefits associated with drinking red wine? What about eating dark chocolate? The latest answer often seems to depend on the most recent study. Evidence synthesis gets beyond the confusing headlines to look at the entire body of research on a topic, screening out poorly designed or irrelevant studies and accounting for random variation or study differences.
We’ll talk about more benefits of evidence synthesis on the next page.