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11.1  Introduction

The Results section of a review should summarize the findings in a clear and logical order, and should explicitly address the objectives of the review. Review authors can use a variety of tables and figures to present information in a more convenient format:


‘Characteristics of included studies’ tables present information on individual studies; ‘Data and analyses’ tables and forest plots present outcome data from individual studies and may additionally include meta-analyses; ‘Summary of findings’ tables present the cumulative information, data and quality of evidence for the most important outcomes. The findings of a review also must be summarized for an abstract and for a plain language summary.


‘Summary of findings’ tables are key among these presentation tools, and a substantial part of this chapter is dedicated to them. We discuss the specification of the important outcomes that might be relevant to people considering the intervention(s) under study, a step that we believe is often neglected in Cochrane reviews.  We then present examples of ‘Summary of findings’ tables, and describe the contents of those tables. Chapter 12 discusses issues in the interpretation of results.