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Development of two shortened systematic review formats for clinicians

Laure Perrier12*, Nav Persaud13, Anita Ko4, Monika Kastner1, Jeremy Grimshaw5, K Ann McKibbon6 and Sharon E Straus1

Author Affiliations

1 Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St Michael’s Hospital, 30 Bond Street, Toronto, ON M5B 1W8, Canada

2 Continuing Education & Professional Development, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, 500 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 1V7, Canada

3 Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto, 500 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 1V7, Canada

4 Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto, 5 King’s College Road, Toronto, ON M5S 3G8, Canada

5 Department of Medicine, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, University of Ottawa, 501 Smyth Road, Box 711, Ottawa, ON K1H 8L6, Canada

6 Health Information Research Unit, Dept of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, CRL Building, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1, Canada

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Implementation Science 2013, 8:68  doi:10.1186/1748-5908-8-68

Published: 14 June 2013



Systematic reviews provide evidence for clinical questions, however the literature suggests they are not used regularly by physicians for decision-making. A shortened systematic review format is proposed as one possible solution to address barriers, such as lack of time, experienced by busy clinicians. The purpose of this paper is to describe the development process of two shortened formats for a systematic review intended for use by primary care physicians as an information tool for clinical decision-making.


We developed prototypes for two formats (case-based and evidence-expertise) that represent a summary of a full-length systematic review before seeking input from end-users. The process was composed of the following four phases: 1) selection of a systematic review and creation of initial prototypes that represent a shortened version of the systematic review; 2) a mapping exercise to identify obstacles described by clinicians in using clinical evidence in decision-making; 3) a heuristic evaluation (a usability inspection method); and 4) a review of the clinical content in the prototypes.


After the initial prototypes were created (Phase 1), the mapping exercise (Phase 2) identified components that prompted modifications. Similarly, the heuristic evaluation and the clinical content review (Phase 3 and Phase 4) uncovered necessary changes. Revisions were made to the prototypes based on the results.


Documentation of the processes for developing products or tools provides essential information about how they are tailored for the intended user. One step has been described that we hope will increase usability and uptake of these documents to end-users.

Review literature as topic; Evidence-based medicine