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HLTH 6860: Program Planning for Health Promotion

Locating EBPs in a Systematic Review

As you search either article databases or the Evidence Based Program websites listed on this guide, you are likely to encounter systematic reviews. A systematic review** can be overwhelming, but the goal here is to skim/read enough of the review to identify the specific programs or interventions the reviewers included in their review. Then, follow the references to find the articles that report in detail on those specific programs.*

An Example

Carson‐Chahhoud, K. V., Ameer, F., Sayehmiri, K., Hnin, K., van Agteren, J., Sayehmiri, F., … Smith, B. J. (2017). Mass media interventions for preventing smoking in young people. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD001006.

The Example Deciphered (page numbers refer to pages in the PDF version of the review)

After excluding studies that didn't meet their stated criteria (see p. 6 for the criteria), the reviewers identified eight studies (interventions) reporting information about mass media smoking campaigns (see beginning of the Main Results section, top of page 8). 

Pages 8-10 provide summary information about the studies (participants, measured outcomes, etc.).

Pages 11-14 summarize the evidence about how well the studies (interventions) prevented the uptake of smoking in young people. See a summary table of this information on pages 57-58. 

Pages 14-17 provide the reviewers' discussion of the eight studies.

Bottom Line

Page 19 lists the references for the eight reviewed studies. These are the citations you need to follow to read full descriptions of each intervention. In our example, one study mentioned is Flynn, B. S., Worden, J. K., Bunn, J. Y., Solomon, L. J., Ashikaga, T., Connolly, S. W., & Ramirez, A. G. (2010). Mass media interventions to reduce youth smoking prevalence. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 39(1), 53–62. *


*If you only have an article citation and can't find the full-text of the article through a hyperlink or Google search, use the library's Journals A-Z tool to search for the journal title. How to use Journals A-Z to find the full-text of an article.

**What is a systematic review? It's a summary of relevant studies on a topic that are assessed based on explicit criteria and that is prepared according to a specific methodology. This definition from CEBMa gives a good overview in plain language.