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Systematic Reviews: Qualitative reviews

What is Qualitative Evidence?

Cochrane Webinar Qualitative Evidence Synthesis Methods

Webinar on qualitative evidence synthesis by Sara Cooper and Bey Marrie Schmidt from Cochrane South Africa

Search concept tools

SPICE to search for qualitative evidence

  • S = setting – where and in what context?

  • P = perspective – for whom?

  • I = intervention –  (Phenomenon of Interest)–  what?

  • C = comparison – compared with what?

  • E = evaluation – how well and with what result?


Booth A. Clear and present questions: formulating questions for evidence based practice. Library Hi Tech. 2006 24 (3): 355-68.

SPIDER to search for qualitative and mixed methods research studies

  • S = Sample

  • PI = Phenomenon of Interest

  • D = Design

  • E = Evaluation

  • R = Research Type

Cooke A, Smith D. Booth A. Beyond PICO: The SPIDER Tool for qualitative evidence synthesis. Qual Health Res. 2012 22(10): 435-43

Search strategy design


Developing optimal search strategies for retrieving clinically relevant qualitative studies in EMBASE.

Walters LA, Wilczynski NL, Haynes RB; Hedges Team..

Qual Health Res. 2006 Jan;16(1):162-8.


Developing optimal search strategies for retrieving qualitative studies in PsycINFO.

McKibbon KA, Wilczynski NL, Haynes RB.

Eval Health Prof. 2006 Dec;29(4):440-54.


Developing optimal search strategies for detecting clinically relevant qualitative studies in MEDLINE.

Wong SS, Wilczynski NL, Haynes RB; Hedges Team..

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2004;107(Pt 1):311-6.


Qualitative Evidence Synthesis

Dr Andrew Booth has been a systematic review methodologist at ScHARR, University of Sheffield since 1994 having previously worked in health information roles for the NHS, the Medical Research Council and the King´s Fund. Andrew is a Co-Convenor of the Cochrane Qualitative and Implementation Methods Group (CQIMG) and is an Associate Editor for Research Synthesis Methods.

Andrew has co-authored recent guidance for the CQIMG and for the GRADE-CERQual core team. Andrew coordinates the annual three day Evidence Synthesis of Qualitative Research in Europe (ESQUIRE) course at the University of Sheffield. Along with colleagues at ScHARR, he is currently working on the 3rd edition of Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review (London: Sage). The presenter, one of the most prolific authors in QES methodology over recent years, will offer a state of the art summary of QES methodologies in this webinar.



Training Resources

Check out these excellent resources from Cochrane in conducting qualitative synthesis.



Resources for Focusing a Question

Focusing the Question (ESQUIRE2012)

Issues and Challenges for Focusing the Question (ESQUIRE2012) 

Resources for Searching

Literature Searching for Qualitative Studies and Quality Appraisal

Resources for Data Extraction

Appraisal Extraction and Pooling (JBI)

Resources for Quality Assessment & Resources for Synthesis 

Methods of Synthesising Qualitative Evidence for Policy and Health Technology Assessments

Methods for Synthesizing Qualitative Evidence (ppts)

Methods for synthesizing qualitative evidence (Youtube)


Qualitative synthesis methods: A decision tree 


CCC Qualitative evidence synthesis and Cochrane Reviews

Resources for Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Research

Synthesising qualitative and quantitative evidence (Dixon-Woods)