Conducting a Systematic Review: The Adverse Effects of Exposure to Armed Conflict on Pregnancy

Abstract

In 2016, I conducted a systematic review examining the adverse effects of exposure to armed conflict on pregnancy. The project was completed during my final year at medical school and was the first systematic review that I had worked on. This was the first systematic review conducted on this topic. This case study examines the rationale for the project and the steps taken to construct a search that captured all of the key studies relating to this topic. In particular, it considers the different types of literature review, generating search terms and eligibility criteria, screening studies for eligibly, data extraction, quality assessment, analysis, interpretation, and write up. In addition, the case study outlines some practical considerations and lists the resources required to complete a systemic review. It discusses the challenges I faced dealing with thousands of references and knowing how to handle vast quantities of information and how I addressed these challenges through the use of systematic review and reference management software. I focus on the key ideas that students will need to commence a systematic review and give advice about how to organize their systemic reviews with confidence. I learned through experience that organization was one of the most important aspects when it came to completing the review and that accurate record keeping enables authors to write up their projects more easily.

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