Systematic Reviews

Karen Grimmer-Somers, PhD Systematic Reviews Editor Centre for Allied Health Evidence Australia This month’s systematic review by Felicity Langley and Dr. Shylie Mackintosh is a good example of how the transparent systematic review process can be used to thoroughly answer a clinical question in allied health. Rather than asking ‘how effective is a particular treatment’ as occurs in most systematic reviews, this review asks ‘what is the most robust method of assessing balance in older adults?’

The systematic review process supported comprehensive identification of the relevant literature, by assisting the authors to define their search question, their inclusion (and exclusion) criteria, and the breadth of their search in terms of years and language of publication. Using the critical appraisal methodology, the relevant literature was critiqued and searched thoroughly, and an answer provided to the question ‘on balance’ of available evidence.

The authors are to be congratulated in producing this paper as it provides clinicians not only with a comprehensive overview of available assessment instruments for assessing balance, but also with a considered finding which takes account of psychometric property testing and relevance to the clinical area. Because allied health evidence needs to be produced across a range of tasks, this systematic review highlights how the review process can be applied to any clinical question, irrespective of whether it reflects a process or intervention.


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