National Center for the
Dissemination of Disability Research

ACRM-ASNR Joint Educational Conference & Exhibits
"Progress in Rehabilitation Research"

Hilton Montreal Bonaventure
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
October 20-23, 2010

Assessing the Quality and Applicability of Systematic Reviews—
A Systematic Approach

Thurs. Oct. 21, 2010 (3:30 pm – 5:00 pm)

Course Director: Marcel Dijkers, PhD, FACRM
Faculty: Tamara Bushnik, PhD, FACRM; Marcel Dijkers, PhD, FACRM; Allen, Heinemann, PhD, ABPP (Rp), FACRM; Alexander Libin, PhD; Mark Sherer, PhD, FACRM


The world's clinical and scientific literature is growing so fast that it has become impossible to keep up with everything that is published every day. More and more clinicians, policy makers and researchers use reviews to stay on top of research and to get recommendations as to what they should be doing in treating their patients/clients, perfecting study designs or setting policy. However, this reliance on reviews creates its own problems. Some are good, some are poor, and the worst ones are poor and biased. The best class of reviews for someone who wants to answer specific questions related to incidence or prevalence, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and health care costs is a systematic review.

Many clinicians, policy makers and researchers did not learn about systematic reviews during their training or are not confident that they can evaluate the quality of a review even if they did study the topic. The Task Force on Systematic Reviews and Guidelines of the National Center for the Dissemination of Rehabilitation Research (NCDRR) created a checklist for the assessment of the quality and applicability of systematic reviews and meta-analyses, based on the existing literature and the members’ own experience in the creation and use of systematic reviews.

The purpose of this checklist is to help busy clinicians, policy makers and researchers to ask the critical questions that will help reveal the strengths and weaknesses of a review. The objective of this workshop is to describe the checklist and its accompanying manual with rehabilitation clinicians, policy makers, educators and administrators, explain the reasons for its various elements, and illustrate its use.

Clinical/Research Objectives: At the conclusion, participants should be able to:

Download PowerPoint file:

Download Checklist Syllabus for ACRM:

Please contact Joann Starks at if you have any questions.

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NCDDR is funded by the
National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)
Project Number: H133A060028
U.S. Department of Education