Trends in systematic reviews of kidney transplantation: A 10-year analysis of the evidence base.
Salih S., O'Callaghan J., Salih M., Walker J., Magar RR., Knight S., Pengel LHM.
BACKGROUND: Systematic reviews (SRs) are the highest form of evidence for all types of clinical questions in evidence-based practice. For the first time in 2018, the number of SRs in transplantation outstripped those from randomised controlled trials (RCTs). This raises concerns of duplication or increased use of non-RCT evidence. We aimed to analyse the trends, strength and quality of SRs in kidney transplantation over a 10-year period. METHODS: SRs in kidney transplantation were identified from the Transplant Library, without language restriction. All full-text citations were exported to a custom Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) database prior to evaluation. Quality of evidence in all included SRs was assessed using AMSTAR-2. RESULTS: We included 454 SRs, of which, only three were scored as 'high quality'. We found that 96.70% of SRs were identified as 'critically low quality', which increased in number over time. We also found that inclusion of non-RCT data increased in the most recent 5 years. Only 14.12% of SRs had made a clear recommendation for practice. CONCLUSIONS: This review highlights several concerning statistics that need to be addressed. In the last 10 years, only three SRs in kidney transplantation were 'high-quality'. The weaknesses identified in critical domains, alongside the increased use of non-RCT data and lack of conclusive recommendations undermines the confidence in the results of the SRs and purpose of publication. As these SRs are instrumental to clinical decision-making and patient care in kidney transplantation, we advocate for improved reporting quality among SRs in kidney transplantation.