Systematic Review Project

See here to find out about the success of the PRS Systematic Review Project, led by Dr Alex Benham, with support from Dr Caroline Belchamber.


PRS systematic review project report

By Dr Alex Benham, Senior Lecturer at Keele University and Lead of the “PRS Systematic Review Project”

In December 2021, the Physiotherapy Research Society (PRS) achieved success in securing professional network funding for an educational initiative focused on systematic reviews. The funding team consisted of myself as project lead, as well as Dr Caroline Belchamber, This comprehensive program aimed to guide individuals in understanding and interpreting systematic reviews, while also assisting five participants in crafting and conducting their own reviews.

The first phase of this initiative was the creation of a valuable learning resource centred around systematic reviews, thoughtfully developed by Jo Jordan, a prominent figure from the Primary Care Research Centre at Keele University. This resource took the form of a video presentation, which covered the fundamental principles of comprehending systematic reviews and meta-analyses. It will continue to be readily accessible on the PRS website as an educational resource to our members. To access this resource, please click here.

The second part of the Network funding endeavour entailed the formulation and execution of a systematic review workshop series tailored to the individual projects set by physiotherapists who applied to take part. These workshops were aimed at individuals with a specific clinical inquiry and a strong desire to conduct a literature review to address it. Applications for these workshops were solicited through an online form, which was promoted via the PRS website and various social media channels. The response was overwhelming, with over 20 full applications received for the limited five funded review slots.

The workshop series took participants through the entire process of a methodical literature review, starting with the initial clinical question proposed in their applications. Attendees were guided in transforming this question into a research query amenable to the review process, ultimately serving to guide clinical practice. The reviews spanned diverse clinical domains, encompassing mental health, cancer treatment, stroke care, cervical myelopathy, and persistent pain. They all adhered to a systematic approach. The workshops were conducted on a monthly basis, systematically progressing through each review stage, and benefited from the involvement of experienced research colleagues from the PRS committee. This invaluable support ensured that each stage was completed within the specified timeframe.

All the projects successfully carried out data screening and analysis, which were then presented at the PRS annual conference held at Manchester Metropolitan University in April 2023. Four of the workshop participants were able to personally present their review findings through three poster presentations and one oral presentation. Additionally, the initial work from these reviews underwent further analysis and subsequently presented at additional national and international conferences, alongside three submissions for publication which are currently under review.

The project aimed to make literature reviews more accessible, striving to eliminate some of the obstacles associated with undertaking such endeavours. This was indeed an ambitious undertaking, made possible through the network funding granted by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. This support allowed dedicated time for ensuring that the workshops received the full support they needed. It has also contributed to an enhanced understanding of the educational requirements necessary for the PRS to offer support and education, facilitating engagement with research in the future.

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