March 2014

Volume 31, Issue 1

Editorial - Reviews of the literature: Expected standards

Authors: L. O’Malley
doi: 10.1922/CDH_201401OMalley02


As the scientific literature grows, reviews are increasingly useful ways of summarising vast bodies of evidence or indeed of highlighting evidence gaps that may initiate new research. Increased emphasis on evidence based medicine has fuelled the demand for high quality evidence syntheses. Reviews of the literature can help to keep busy clinicians up to date and to arm policy makers with necessary knowledge for important decisions around patient care. Due to the demand for reviews, a number of different types of literature review have emerged in recent years. A simple search of the dental literature in Web of Knowledge over the last year alone reveals a plethora of review types including systemic reviews, meta-analyses, critical reviews, narrative reviews, literature reviews, scoping reviews and qualitative systematic reviews. A number of examples from this range have been published in Community Dental Health in recent years including a systematic review of oral health related quality of life in cleft lip and/or palate patients (Antonarakis et al., 2013) and a literature review of methods for assessing caries in epidemiological surveys (Agbaje et al., 2012). In this edition alone, two reviews are featured, a narrative review of dentinal hypersensitivity (Cartwright, 2014) and a review of the literature on dietary advice provided by dental practitioners (Franki et al., 2013). The wide range of review types and ambiguity associated with some definitions may occasionally mean authors may risk mislabelling their review. Systematic reviews are perhaps the most clearly defined. The Cochrane Collaboration has named five key components of a systematic review: 1. clear set of objectives and eligibility criteria; 2. explicit and reproducible method; 3. a systematic search that could reasonably be assumed to identify all possible relevant records; 4. quality assessment of the included studies using an appropriate tool such as Risk of Bias and use of this assessment in interpretation of findings; 5. systematic presentation and synthesis of the characteristics and results of all included studies (Higgins and Green, 2011). A meta-analysis may be a feature of a systematic review but it is not a necessary component. A meta-analysis constitutes a statistical synthesis of outcome data of included studies. Due to their robust methods, meta-analyses and systematic reviews are considered to provide the highest level of evidence in determining the efficacy of an intervention (Evans, 2003) and may be especially useful to clinicians and policy makers.


Other articles in this issue

Article Pages Access
Editorial - Reviews of the literature: Expected standards 2-3 Download
Acknowledgement of Referees 4-4 Download
Dental Public Health in Action - Developing and implementing a fluoride varnish programme for young children in Bradford, UK 5-8 Download
The provision of dietary advice by dental practitioners: a review of the literature 9-14 Download
Dentinal hypersensitivity: a narrative review 15-20 Download
Investigation of bias related to non-return of consent for a dental epidemiological survey of caries among five-year-olds 21-26 Download
Comparison of oral health among older people with and without dementia 27-31 Download
Mothers’ sense of coherence and oral health related quality of life of preschool children in Udupi Taluk 32-36 Download
Development and psychometric validation of a Health Literacy in Dentistry scale (HeLD) 37-43 Download
Cross-cultural adaptation, validity and psychometric properties of the Spanish version of the dental satisfaction questionnaire 44-49 Download
The incidence of cleft lip and palate in a Kurd population: a prospective study 50-52 Download
The significance of motivation in periodontal treatment: Validity and reliability of the motivation assessment scale among patients undergoing periodontal treatment 53-56 Download
Oral health behaviours and perceptions reported by Indigenous Australians living in Darwin, Northern Territory 57-61 Download
Trends in the geographic distribution of dental clinics in Japan 62-64 Download


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