A comprehensive description of systematic review (SR) and meta-analysis methodology has been available since the first version of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews in 2008.
We aimed to assess the production of SRs of observational studies on population health issues in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Two independent review authors systematically searched MEDLINE (2008 to 2016) and identified 5747 reviews, systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Following a multi-stage screening process, we included 387 SRs in our overview. We retrieved citation numbers for each SR from Google Scholar. We retrieved the impact factor of the journal for the publication year of the included SRs from the ISI Journal Citation Report.
The annual numbers of SRs on MENA population health increased significantly (P < 0.0001, linear regression): from 15 in 2008 to 81 in 2016. We also identified statistically significant increases in the number of SRs published by authors affiliated to institutions located inside MENA and/or neighboring countries (P value < 0.0001), by authors located outside MENA (P = 0.001) and by collaborating authors affiliated to institutions located outside MENA and inside the region and/or in MENA’s neighboring countries (P < 0.001). Furthermore, these SRs were published in journals with an IF ranging from 0 to 47.8 (median = 2.1). Linear statistically significant increases in the numbers of published SRs were demonstrated in journal impact factor (IF) categories (IF = 0 to 2, P = 0.0012; IF = 2 to 4, P = 0.0003; IF = 4 to 6, P = 0.026). Additionally, annual numbers of citations to the SRs varied between 0 and 471 (median = 7). While each year, a couple of published SRs were getting more than 50 annual citations, there were linear statistically significant increases in the numbers of published SRs with annual numbers of citations of 0 to 10 (P = 0.00014) and at 10 to 50 (P = 0.0021).
From 2008 to 2016 the annual number of published SRs on population health issues in the MENA and the number of collaborations between authors from inside and outside the region increased.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement:
Characterizing the epidemiology of population health issues in the MENA is essential to build evidence-based health policy and prevention and treatment programs.