Systematic reviews play a crucial role in this era of Evidence Based Medicine and clinical guidelines. Systematic reviews use a systematic and transparent approach to identify all relevant articles, appraise the risk of bias, examine sources of variation, and, if appropriate, meta-analyse the results of the primary studies.
This course will offer a mix of lectures and practicals that will help the student to perform all of these steps in practice. In addition, specific challenges to systematic reviews and new developments will be highlighted.
By the end of the course, you should be able to:
• Explain the rationale for performing a systematic review
• List the key steps of a systematic review
• Formulate a proper review question addressing a therapeutic dilemma
• Understand the design of a comprehensive and efficient search strategy to identify relevant RCT’s in electronic bibliographic databases
• Explain the main types of bias in a therapeutic study
• Assess primary studies (RCT) for their risk of bias and report these findings
• Explain the difference between fixed and random effects approach and their assumptions
• Perform & interpret the findings of a meta-analysis (fixed & random approach)
• Interpret the different measures of heterogeneity
• Interpret the results of a meta-regression model
• List and explain the different types of reporting bias
• Critically appraise systematic reviews
This course includes a multiple-choice exam. The exams are, by default, online using online proctoring. If you wish to take the exam on-site in Utrecht, the Netherlands, this is possible as well.
Prior to the exam, there will be a synchronous Q&A session via video conferencing. During this session we will discuss remaining questions. If you have any remaining questions, you can ask them before the Q&A session at the discussion forum at the end of the course. Please be advised that it is not required to attend this synchronous meeting.
Exam edition January 2024
The exam will take place on February 9th, 2024 from 14:15 – 16:15 CET. The re-examination will take place on April 5th, 2024 from 14:15 – 16:15 CET. Note: these times might be subject to change. The exact time and place will be announced as soon as possible in the learning environment and any changes announced there will overrule the information here.
Exam edition May 2024
The exam will take place on June 14th, 2024 from 14:15 – 16:15 CET. The re-examination will take place on August 2th, 2024 from 14:15 – 16:15 CET. Note: these times might be subject to change. The exact time and place will be announced as soon as possible in the learning environment and any changes announced there will overrule the information here.
Taking the exam is not compulsory. However, if you want to receive the Course Certificate and the credits, it is obligatory to take the exam. You are allowed to redo the exam once.
It might be that, due to a force majeure situation, you cannot be present during the first exam moment.
• MSc Epidemiology Postgraduate students must then, preferably prior to the first exam option, ask the academic counsellor for permission to be absent. Please note that the academic counsellor can ask for some form of proof of your absence (e.g. in case of illness) to establish if you are applicable for authorized absence. Jaco de Fockert-Koefoed, MSc is the academic counsellor you need to turn to through firstname.lastname@example.org.
• All other participants should contact the MSc Epidemiology Office instead, through MSc-Epidemiology@umcutrecht.nl.
In short, as of now, it is no longer possible to skip the first exam option and -automatically- enroll in the second (re-sit) exam. Unauthorized absence during the first exam period results in no longer being able to finish the course that college year.
To enroll in this course, you need:
• A BSc degree in biomedical sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, medicine or veterinary medicine, or a comparable degree
• Basic knowledge about epidemiology and statistical data analysis. Elevate courses offering this knowledge include Introduction to Epidemiology and Introduction to Statistics
• Basic understanding of the principles of clinical epidemiology, regarding the design, conduct & analysis of a therapeutic randomized controlled trial.
• Sufficient proficiency in English reading and writing
Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Available for free.
Review Manager software (RevMan). Available for free.