Systematic reviews of qualitative research (‘qualitative evidence syntheses’) are increasingly popular and represent a potentially important source of information about people’s views, needs and experiences. Since 2013, Cochrane has published qualitative evidence syntheses, and the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care group has been involved in the majority of these reviews. But more guidance is needed on how to prepare these reviews in an environment that is more familiar with reviews of quantitative research. In this paper, we describe and reflect on how Cochrane qualitative evidence syntheses differ from reviews of intervention effectiveness and how these differences have influenced the guidance developed by the EPOC group. In particular, we discuss how it has been important to display to end users, firstly, that qualitative evidence syntheses are carried out with rigour and transparency, and secondly, that these quality standards need to reflect qualitative research traditions. We also discuss lessons that reviews of effectiveness might learn from qualitative research.
- conflict of interest
- purposive sampling
- qualitative evidence synthesis
- study language
- systematic reviews of qualitative research