From The CriticsReviewer: Donald P Connelly, MD, PhD(University of Minnesota Medical School)
Description: The book is structured to follow the logical sequence of procedures and processes used to develop and apply a systematic review of the literature to improve healthcare. It is supplemented with extensive tables, figures, practical forms and appendixes.
Purpose: The authors aim to help health literature reviewers produce more relevant, valid, and applicable systematic reviews to be used to improve healthcare outcomes. This is a timely and relevant objective. The book's disciplined structure is tightly focused on the authors' purpose and their objectives are well met.
Audience: The well-qualified authors maintain a tight focus throughout on experienced and non-expert healthcare literature reviewers working to help clinicians or those involved in quality improvement.
Features: "Following a succinct introductory chapter, 17 chapters evenly cover the five stages of planning and preparation, assembling the literature database, validating that database, performing the analysis and synthesis, and preparing and disseminating the systematic report. It is well supplemented with relevant "how-to" sections, tables and forms which the reader is invited to duplicate and use. Though the chapters in the analytic section won't substitute for a solid graduate course in meta-analysis, the relevant concepts are logically developed and presented and will be a useful refresher for both the statistician and his less quantitatively-focused colleagues. The title of the book doesn't accurately portray the asymmetric coverage of the two concepts, information synthesis and healthcare informatics. Its coverage of informatics is limited to the thin slice that is pertinent to information synthesis and is not nearly as complete or broadly based. That is not to say that more balanced coverage is needed — just a more accurate title. "
Assessment: Look to this book as a thorough compendium on how to do information syntheses. It covers sufficient breadth of the field in admirable depth that the novice can become well prepared to pursue the art and science of information synthesis. More experienced practitioners looking for new ideas or more formalized approaches will also benefit from this excellent book.