The process of evidence synthesis is complex, involving multiple steps and, typically, excessively large volumes of data. Formal training is required to help systematic review authors cope with this complexity. Evidence synthesis is an evolving science and new methodologies are constantly emerging. Recent developments have seen several new methodologies to address the systematic review of qualitative evidence, realist reviews, scoping reviews, the systematic review of opinion and text, the systematic review of economic evidence, mixed method syntheses, and overviews of reviews or umbrella reviews (a review of reviews). With this growing range of options review authors need to remain current in their training and/or receive additional mentoring in these different methodologies. A comprehensive mentorship program would also address strategies for stakeholder engagement, and pre-planning for dissemination and implementation of the review results, rather than solely focusing on the technical requirements. Most review authors receive initial training ranging from a few days to a full week of instruction. However, once back in their home environments with competing demands for time, the clarity and guidance of that education may falter. New review authors can overly focus on technical knowledge while ignoring the necessary engagement to facilitate stakeholder participation and to ensure the relevance and applicability of the completed review.
The objective of this presentation is to discuss several strategies and approaches to the ongoing mentorship of review authors in the process of evidence synthesis and stakeholder engagement. The presentation will provide a variety of perspectives from organizations, review authors (mentees) and mentors. Notably we will also highlight the mentorship of review authors in lower-/middle-income countries.
The process of evidence synthesis presents complex challenges. A single training event does not equip review authors with the skills and knowledge to conduct the high-standard evidence syntheses expected by knowledge users today. Multiple strategies in mentorship programs are necessary to ensure the relevance and applicability of review findings in addition to methodological quality for evidence to inform practice and improve patient outcomes.