Demand for Cochrane systematic reviews (CSR) has increased in the past five years, however, the withdrawal rate also has experienced a parallel phenomenon. Withdrawals may be a concern because they represent wasted time and resources for authors, editors and consumers.
The aim of this study is to describe the reasons for withdrawing a CSR.
We conducted an electronic literature search from 1996 to 2018 using the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR). One reviewer collected all the information through a reference manager. Two reviewers independently determined the reasons for withdrawal, The statistical analysis was performed using SPSS software.
We identified 706 CSR: 377 (53.4%) reviews, 324 (45.9%) protocols and five (0.7%) without an identifiable type. The number of withdrawn reviews from 1996 to 2013 ranged from one to 25 per year. From 2014 to 2018 the number of withdrawals increased (2014, N = 78; 2015, N = 114; 2016, N = 139, 2017, N = 131, 2018, N = 24). The reason for withdrawal was made by the editorial team in 69.3% (N = 489) of cases, and by authors in 18.1% ( N = 128). For the rest this information was not found (10.2%, N = 72) or not reported (2.4%, N =17). The main reasons for editorial teams to withdraw a CSR was lack of progress (29%). Other common reasons were outdated reviews (27.2%), inclusion in a new CSR (14.9%), and non compliance with Cochrane methodology (6.9%). The main reasons for authors to withdraw a CSR was lack of time to complete the CSR (83.7%, N = 128).
Our results showed that the main reasons for editorial units to withdraw CSR were either lack of progress or the review becoming outdated. The main reason for withdrawal by authors was a lack of time to complete the CSR.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement:
CSR are used in the healthcare setting to improve the decision-making process, the importance of this research is indirect to the patients and health consumers because they are at the end of the road of the application of evidence. By understanding why the CSR are being withdrawn, we can make the evidence reach the patients and consumers