Cochrane Qualitative and Implementation Methods Group guidance paper 3: Methods for assessing methodological limitations, data extraction and synthesis, and confidence in synthesized qualitative findings

Jane Noyes, Andrew Booth, Kate Flemming, Ruth Garside, Angela Harden, Simon Lewin, Tomas Pantoja, Karin Hannes, Margaret Cargo, James Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

272 Citations (Scopus)


The Cochrane Qualitative and Implementation Methods Group develops and publishes guidance on the synthesis of qualitative and mixed-method implementation evidence. Choice of appropriate methodologies, methods, and tools is essential when developing a rigorous protocol and conducting the synthesis. Cochrane authors who conduct qualitative evidence syntheses have thus far used a small number of relatively simple methods to address similarly written questions. Cochrane has invested in methodological work to develop new tools and to encourage the production of exemplar reviews to show the value of more innovative methods that address a wider range of questions. In this paper, in the series, we report updated guidance on the selection of tools to assess methodological limitations in qualitative studies and methods to extract and synthesize qualitative evidence. We recommend application of Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation-Confidence in the Evidence from Qualitative Reviews to assess confidence in qualitative synthesized findings. This guidance aims to support review authors to undertake a qualitative evidence synthesis that is intended to be integrated subsequently with the findings of one or more Cochrane reviews of the effects of similar interventions. The review of intervention effects may be undertaken concurrently with or separate to the qualitative evidence synthesis. We encourage further development through reflection and formal testing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-58
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Publication statusPublished - May 2018
Externally publishedYes

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