CONTEXT: The increased uptake of evidence from systematic reviews is advocated because of their potential to improve the quality of decision making for patient care. Systematic reviews can do this by decreasing inappropriate clinical variation and quickly expediting the application of current, effective advances to everyday practice. However, research suggests that evidence from systematic reviews has not been widely adopted by health professionals. Little is known about the facilitators to uptake of research evidence from systematic reviews and meta-analyses. OBJECTIVE: To review the facilitators to the uptake by decision makers, of evidence from systematic, meta-analyses and the databases containing them. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched 19 databases covering the full range of publication years, utilised three search engines and also personally contacted investigators. Grey literature and knowledge translation research was particularly sought. Reference lists of primary studies and related reviews were also searched. SELECTION CRITERIA: Studies were included if they reported on the views and perceptions of decision makers on the uptake of evidence from systematic reviews, meta-analyses and the databases associated with them. One investigator screened titles to identify candidate articles, and then two reviewers independently assessed the relevance of retrieved articles to exclude studies that did not meet the inclusion criteria. Quality of the included studies was also assessed. DATA EXTRACTION: Using a pre-established taxonomy, two reviewers described the methods of included studies and extracted data that were summarised in tables and then analysed. Differences were resolved by consensus. RESULTS: Of articles initially identified, we selected unique published studies describing at least one facilitator to the uptake of evidence from systematic reviews. The 15 unique studies reported 10 surveys, three qualitative investigations and two mixed studies that addressed potential facilitators. Five studies were from Canada, four from the UK, three from Australia, one from Iran and one from South-east Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines), with one study covering both Canada and UK. In total, the 15 studies covered eight countries from four continents. Of 2495 participants in the 15 studies, at least 1343 (53.8%) were physicians. Perceived facilitators to the use of evidence from systematic reviews varied. The 15 studies yielded 54 potential facilitators to systematic review uptake. The five most commonly reported perceived facilitators to uptake of evidence from systematic reviews were the following: the perception that systematic reviews have multiple uses for improving knowledge, research, clinical protocols and evidence-based medicine skills (6/15); a content that included benefits, harms and costs and is current, transparent and timely (6/15); a format with a 1:3:25 staged access and executive summary (5/15); training in use (4/15); and peer-group support (4/15). CONCLUSION: The results expand our understanding of how multiple factors act as facilitators to optimal clinical practice. This systematic review reveals that interventions to foster uptake of evidence from systematic reviews, meta-analyses and The Cochrane Library can build on a broad range of facilitators.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Evid Based Healthc

Publication Date





338 - 346


Diffusion of Innovation, Evidence-Based Practice, Research Design