Completing ‘summary of findings’ tables and grading the certainty of the evidence

Holger J. Schünemann, Julian P.T. Higgins, Gunn E. Vist, Paul Glasziou, Elie A. Akl, Nicole Skoetz, Gordon H. Guyatt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

585 Citations (Scopus)


Planning for the ‘Summary of findings’ table starts early in the systematic review, with the selection of the outcomes to be included in: the review; and the ‘Summary of findings’ table. This is a crucial step, and one that review authors need to address carefully. To ensure production of optimally useful information, Cochrane Reviews begin by developing a review question and by listing all main outcomes that are important to patients and other decision makers. The GRADE approach to assessing the certainty of the evidence defines and operationalizes a rating process that helps separate outcomes into those that are critical, important or not important for decision making. Review authors should report the grading of the certainty of evidence in the Results section for each outcome for which this has been performed, providing the rationale for downgrading or upgrading the evidence, and referring to the ‘Summary of findings’ table where applicable.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions
EditorsJulian P.T. Higgins, James Thomas, Jacqueline Chandler, Miranda Cumpston, Tianjing Li, Matthew J. Page, Vivian A. Welch
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9781119536604
ISBN (Print)9781119536628
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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