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Epidemiology and Health 2022;e2022108.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2022108    [Accepted] Published online Nov 15, 2022.
Status quo of systematic reviews published in high-impact journals in Korea: A study focused on protocol registration and GRADE use
Mi Ah Han1  , Seong Jung Kim2  , Eu Chang Hwang3  , Jae Hung Jung4,5 
1Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, Chosun University, Gwangju, Korea
2Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Chosun University, Gwangju, The Republic of Korea., Gwangju, Korea
3Department of Urology, Chonnam National University Medical School, Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital, Hwasun, The Republic of Korea, Hwason, Korea
4Department of Urology, Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine, Wonju, The Republic of Korea, Wonju, Korea
5Center of Evidence Based Medicine, Institute of Convergence Science, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea
Correspondence  Mi Ah Han ,Email: mahan@chosun.ac.kr
Received: Aug 17, 2022  Accepted after revision: Nov 15, 2022
Abstract
Objectives:
This study investigated the status quo of systematic reviews published in major journals in Korea from the perspective of protocol registration and adopting the grading of recommendation, assessment, development and evaluation (GRADE) system.
Method:
We examined systematic reviews published in Korea’s top 15 medical journals from 2018 to 2021. Teams of two reviewers assessed the study eligibility criteria and extracted data independently and in duplicate. We collected the information on study characteristics, protocol registration, GRADE use of reviews included, and reviewed the “Instructions to Authors” of the selected journals to assess any guidance related to systematic reviews.
Results:
Out of the 126 identified reviews, 18 (14.3%) reported that they registered or published their protocol. Only 5 (4.0%) rated the certainty of evidence; and all 5 used the GRADE system. Only 6 of 15 journals mentioned systematic reviews in their "Instructions for Authors.” Six journals endorsed Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) for systematic review reporting; however, 2 were mandatory, 3 were recommended, and 1 was unclear. None of the journals included mentioned protocol registration or certainty of evidence in their authors’ guidelines.
Conclusions:
Overall, the proportion of prior protocol registration of systematic reviews and adoption of the GRADE approach to rate the certainty of evidence was very low. Our study highlights the adherence to the systematic review standards of medical journals in Korea, including a prior protocol registration and certainty of evidence assessment. Our review helps improve the quality of systematic reviews in Korea.
Keywords: Editorial policies; GRADE approach; Guidelines; Journal article; Research report; Systematic review
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