Methodological Quality Assessment of Review Articles Evaluating Interventions to Improve Microbial Food Safety

Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Foodborne Pathogens and Disease (Impact Factor: 1.91). 02/2006; 3(4):447-56. DOI: 10.1089/fpd.2006.3.447
Source: PubMed


Review articles are a means of summarizing the potentially vast volume of research on a topic. However, the methodological quality of review articles varies, and reviews on the same topic may reach different conclusions. We evaluated 65 review articles published between 2000 and 2005 that addressed the effectiveness of microbial food safety interventions, using criteria for methodological soundness developed in the medical field. Overall, the methodological quality of the review articles was poor, with none of the reviews providing information on the method of locating primary research studies or the inclusion/exclusion criteria for selecting primary studies. None of the reviews included a critical appraisal of the methodological quality of the primary studies. Less than half of the reviews stated a focused research question, explored possible reasons for differences in the results of primary studies, discussed the generalizability of results, or proposed directions for future research. There is a need to improve the methodological quality of review articles on microbial food safety interventions if they are to be of use in policy and decision making.

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    • "The reporting of multiple outcomes is common in controlled trials in veterinary medicine (Sargeant et al., 2006, 2009a,b, 2010b). Often, different outcomes measure different aspects of potential intervention effects, such as outcomes related to morbidity or mortality and outcomes related to quality of life or production/performance. "
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    • "Some of the disadvantages to using reviews are that they are sometimes not easy to adapt to individual cases, they become outdated as new research is published, the quality of the review itself needs to be addressed, and one can often find conflicting results between reviews (Barnes and Bero, 1998; Hoving et al., 2001). Evaluations of traditional narrative reviews in the medical literature (Mulrow, 1987; McAlister et al., 1999) and on-farm food safety literature (Sargeant et al., 2006b) illustrate that these reviews do not report the use of scientific methods to identify, assess and synthesize the literature available on the review topic, potentially resulting in invalid conclusions. "
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