A systematic review is the wrong tool if…

1. Research on your topic doesn’t exist
In the chart on the previous page, you saw that before 1948, PubMed has no evidence of published literature about pain in newborn babies. So, you can’t synthesize research from before 1948 because it doesn’t exist.
Remember, If you can’t find research on these topics, it doesn’t necessarily mean no one has asked these questions, it just means no one has done a full study or published the findings.

2. There’s not enough research on your question
The number of publications on the topic of newborn babies and pain were limited until 1987, when the Anand & Hickey paper ushered in a new area of research on newborn pain. If we tried to synthesize the research written before 1987, we wouldn’t have enough information to make an informed decision.

3. Your question can’t be answered with a systematic review
We can learn a lot about how infant pain has been studied since 1987 by synthesizing existing research, but we’re less likely to find the answer to more philosophical or historical questions such as “Why is there a shortage of research about pain management for newborns?”

Still think a systematic review will address your needs? On the next page, we’ll discuss the logistics for getting started.