Background

[fixed, level 1 heading]

Well-formulated review questions occur in the context of an already-formed body of knowledge. The background should address this context, help set the rationale for the review, and explain why the questions being asked are important. It should be concise (generally around one page when printed) and be understandable to the users of the intervention under investigation. All sources of information should be cited.

 

Description of the condition

[recommended, level 2 heading]

The review should begin with a brief description of the condition being addressed and its significance. It may include information about the biology, diagnosis, prognosis and public health importance (including prevalence or incidence).

 

Description of the intervention

[recommended, level 2 heading]

A description of the experimental intervention(s) should place it in the context of any standard, or alternative interventions. The role of the comparator intervention(s) in standard practice should be made clear. For drugs, basic information on clinical pharmacology should be presented where available. This information might include dose range, metabolism, selective effects, half-life, duration and any known interactions with other drugs. For more complex interventions, a description of the main components should be provided.

 

How the intervention might work

[recommended, level 2 heading]

This section might describe the theoretical reasoning why the interventions under review may have an impact on potential recipients, for example, by relating a drug intervention to the biology of the condition. Authors may refer to a body of empirical evidence such as similar interventions having an impact or identical interventions having an impact on other populations. Authors may also refer to a body of literature that justifies the possibility of effectiveness.

 

Why it is important to do this review

[recommended, level 2 heading]

The background should clearly state the rationale for the review and should explain why the questions being asked are important. It might also mention why this review was undertaken and how it might relate to a wider review of a general problem. If this version of the review is an update of an earlier one, it is helpful to state this by writing, for example, “This is an update of a Cochrane review first published in YEAR, and previously updated in YEAR”. This may be supplemented with a brief description of the main findings of the earlier versions, with a statement of any specific reasons there may be for updating the review.