Evidence synthesis is still not widely used in the equine veterinary world, despite its recognised value in human evidence-based medicine. In a new virtual collection, the Equine Veterinary Journal (EVJ) discusses the what and the why of this important evaluation method, as well as providing free access to all the equine veterinary evidence reviews published to date.
The term ‘evidence synthesis’ describes a range of methodological approaches used to systematically review, appraise, and summarise evidence on a specific area. The approaches differ from conventional literature reviews or narrative reviews, which are not required to have a specified search strategy or methodology for appraising evidence, and usually present a personal perspective or opinion.
The EVJ special virtual collection provides free access to evidence reviews on diverse areas in which evidence synthesis has been used, with a comprehensive introductory editorial from Professor Sarah Freeman. The collection will gradually expand as new evidence reviews become available and currently the collection includes:
• A systematic review of the efficacy of interventions for dynamic intermittent dorsal displacement of the soft palate
• Recovery of horses from general anaesthesia: A systematic review (2000-2020) of risk factors and influence of interventions during the recovery period
• The accuracy of ACTH as a biomarker for pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction in horses: A systematic review and meta-analysis
• Equine disease events resulting from international horse movements: Systematic review and lessons learned
• Recovery of horses from general anaesthesia: A systematic review (2000–2020) of the influence of anaesthetic protocol on recovery quality
• A systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy of furosemide for exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage in Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses
• BEVA primary care clinical guidelines: Analgesia
• BEVA primary care clinical guidelines: Wound management in the horse
• A scoping review of the current evidence on treatment and outcomes following synovial sepsis
• A systematic literature search to identify performance measure outcomes used in clinical studies of racehorses
• Research trends in equine movement analysis, future opportunities and potential barriers in the digital age: A scoping review from 1978 to 2018
• Clinical predictive models in equine medicine: A systematic review
• Scoping review: Occurrence and definitions of postoperative complications in equine colic surgery
Systematic reviews are regarded in human medicine as powerful tools to collate and combine evidence. They are considered the highest level of evidence and are used to inform and guide national and international medical health care policies and guidelines. There are three main types of evidence syntheses: rapid reviews, systematic reviews, and scoping reviews. All have key principles in common, which includes the formulation of a structured question, a systematic search of the available literature, a defined process of reviewing and selecting suitable publications, and a methodology for analysing the final included evidence.
“Evidence synthesis makes an important contribution towards generating the evidence base which underpins equine clinical practice,” said Professor Sarah Freeman. “The challenge compared to human medicine is that equine veterinary data sets are much smaller, and study approaches and methodologies often vary significantly which means that it may not be possible to combine or collate data sets.
“Given this shortfall, scoping reviews can be helpful to identify what information is out there, find areas where a systematic review could be performed, and provide a useful summary for all the studies in a particular area.”
“As increasing numbers of evidence syntheses are published, they will expand our understanding of the current bodies of evidence in veterinary medicine,” said Professor Celia Marr, Editor of the EVJ. “The existing studies are already informing us on how we use evidence in our practices and policies, and it is encouraging to anticipate how they will shape our development of future research, to generate the best evidence as the norm, in every case.”
The virtual issue can be found here and will be free to view.
“Evidence-based veterinary medicine relies on clinicians having access to the most recent and high-quality clinical research. Wiley is delighted to be supporting EVJ in making their evidence syntheses accessible to all,” said Leah Webster, Associate Publisher at Wiley.