Three Rs Microsite


Systematic Reviews

A systematic review is a method of synthesizing scientific evidence. Systematic reviews of animal-based studies help to improve the quality of science. They also contribute to the reduction and refinement of animal use in science.

Synthesis refers to “the contextualization and integration of research finds of individual research studies within the larger body of knowledge on the topic. A synthesis must be reproducible and transparent in its methods”. Systematic reviews are one form of synthesis. (see the Canadian Institute of Health Research).

Systematic reviews of animal-based studies originated from a process that is widely used in human medicine to assess the effectiveness of health care interventions and forms the foundation for evidence-based medicine (see the Cochrane Collaboration and the Canadian Cochrane Collaboration). Systematic reviews of animal-based studies are rare compared with the clinical field and most originate from the CAMARADES group. Systematic reviews can be applied to animal-based studies in areas such as basic and applied research, testing, and the use of animals in education.

Montréal Declaration

In August 2011, support for the increased use of synthesis of evidence reviews in animal-based research was expressed in the Montréal Declaration on the Synthesis of Evidence, adopted by the participants of the 8th World Congress in Alternatives to Animal Use in the Life Science. It is a call for a change in the culture of planning, executing, reporting, reviewing and translating animal research.

Participants agreed that global adoption of a process of synthesis of evidence to review animal studies would:

  1. improve the scientific quality of animal studies
  2. improve the ethical review of animal studies
  3. advance the Three Rs through reduction and refinement
  4. improve scientific reporting through editorial policy
  5. increase the translational value of animal-based research

Conducting Systematic Reviews

The quality of a systematic review is dependent on the quality of the primary studies. Insufficient reporting of methodology and/or poor design in primary studies will hamper a systematic review. Many resources for reporting of primary studies are available There are also resources to assist in conducting and assessing systematic reviews and examples of published systematic reviews of animal studies.

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