Systematic Reviews

This edition of the Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice presents an innovative systematic review by Garrard et al: The Language of Breathlessness. Instead of reporting summary statistics, as is the usual approach when summarising experimental or observational studies into secondary evidence, this paper reports on synthesis of words, phrases, and themes used to describe breathlessness. This approach highlights how the process of a systematic review of the literature can be used for a variety of purposes.

The findings from a transparently conducted and well-reported systematic review should provide readers with comprehensive insights into the relevant literature, with particular relevance to clinical uptake of the findings.1 This particular review provides useful information for therapists working with patients who are breathless, as it identifies the most common and appropriate descriptors of breathlessness that could be used as outcome measures to chart the effectiveness of treatment. Readers are provided with a synthesis of common themes, words and descriptors, which provide a mechanism for reporting breathlessness in terms that are consistently internationally recognised. Not only will a review such as this assist clinical record keeping and quality improvement activities, it will also assist researchers in using the most comprehensive and completed descriptors of this health state, so that research findings in the future can be more readily compared between studies.

1. Grimshaw, J, Eccles, M, Thomas, R, MacLennan, G, Ramsay, C, Fraser, C & Vale, L 2006, 'Evidence (and its limitations) of the effectiveness of guideline dissemination and implementation strategies 1966-1998', Journal of General Internal Medicine, vol. 21, no. suppl. 1, pp. 14-20.


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