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11.2.2  Results of the search and selection of studies

Review authors must decide which characteristics of the studies are likely to be relevant to users of the review. It is likely that most of these characteristics will have been outlined in the review protocol. Review authors should, as a minimum, include the following in the ‘Characteristics of included studies’ table:

Methods: study design (stating whether or not the study was randomized), including, where relevant, a clear indication of how the study differs from a standard parallel group design (e.g. a cross-over or cluster-randomized design); duration of the study (if not included under Intervention). Note: the ‘Methods’ entry should not include measures of risk of bias; these should appear in a ‘Risk of bias’ table (see Chapter 8, Section 8.5).

Participants: setting; relevant details of health status of participants; age; sex; country. Sufficient information should be provided to allow users of the review to determine the applicability of the study to their population, and to allow exploration of differences in participants across studies.

Intervention: a clear list of the intervention groups included in the study. If feasible, sufficient information should be provided for each intervention to be replicated in practice; for drug interventions, include details of drug name, dose, frequency, mode of administration (if not obvious), duration (if not included under Methods); for non-drug interventions, include relevant considerations and components related to the intervention.

Outcomes: a clear list of either (i) outcomes and time -points from the study that are considered in the review; or (ii) outcomes and time-points measured (or reported) in the study. Study results should not be included here (or elsewhere in this table).

Notes: further comments from the review authors on aspects of the study that are not covered by the categories above. Note that assessments of risk of bias should be made in a ‘Risk of bias’ table.

It is possible to add up to three extra fields in the ‘Characteristics of included studies’ table. Where appropriate, review authors are recommended to use an extra field to provide information about the funding of each study.