What type of question should you ask?

Now that you know a little more about your own motivations, take some time to think about what kind of question you’ll answer with your systematic review. Your choice will vary depending on your situation. To get you started, here’s a quick overview of some of the types questions you might want to ask:

Effectiveness (or efficacy/ harms) of Intervention: A question about the treatment of an illness, condition or disability.

If you’re conducting a systematic review to compare your father’s kidney failure treatment options, you are asking an intervention question.

Example: In elderly men with kidney failure, what is the comparative efficacy of hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis for controlling local site infections?

Etiology/risk: A question about the causes or origins of a disease. This kind of question involves looking at the factors that either lead to a disease/disorder or predispose someone to develop that health issue.

If you want to understand why people like your father develop kidney failure, you are asking a question about etiology.

Example: Are 60- to 70-year-old men who have high blood pressure compared with those without high blood pressure at increased risk for kidney failure during the first year of being diagnosed with diabetes?

On the next page we’ll discuss other types of questions you might ask when conducting a systematic review.

This section was informed by this document and this resource.