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Step 4 Screening

Screening process

The final search results obtained via databases etc are screened in accordance with the eligibility criteria for the review.

Ideally, this should be done independently by two reviewers to reduce bias.

All database results are exported into a tool such as EndNote where duplicates are removed.

Screening consists of two stages:

  1. First Pass (Title/Abstract)
    • Examine titles and abstracts to remove any clearly irrelevant studies.
  2. Second Pass (Full text)
    • Read the full text of the items left over/included after 'first pass' and check for compliance with eligibility criteria. Reasons for exclusion must be provided.

Results are compared and disagreements resolved among reviewers.

Prisma flow diagram

A PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta Analyses) diagram is used to show the steps involved in the review process, recording the number of records identified and then excluded at each stage of the screening process.

You can also use the PRISMA Flow Diagram Generator to produce a detailed diagram in a number of output formats.

Review software and screening tools

Search the SR Tool Box for systematic review software and tools.