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How to formulate appropriate review questions for systematic reviews in sports medicine and rehabilitation?
  1. Mohammadreza Pourahmadi1,
  2. Somayeh Delavari2,
  3. Bart Koes3,4,
  4. Abbasali Keshtkar5,
  5. Maryam Nazemipour6,7,
  6. Mohammad Ali Mansournia8,9
  1. 1 Department of Physiotherapy, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  2. 2 Center for Educational Research in Medical Sciences (CERMS), Department of Medical Education, School of Medicine, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  3. 3 Department of General Practice, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  4. 4 Center for Muscle and Joint Health, Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
  5. 5 Department of Health Sciences Education Development, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  6. 6 Osteoporosis Research Center, Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinical Sciences Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  7. 7 Psychosocial Health Research Institute, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  8. 8 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  9. 9 Sports Medicine Research Center, Neuroscience Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  1. Correspondence to Professor Mohammad Ali Mansournia, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran 14155-6446, Iran; mansournia_ma{at}

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The practise of evidence-based medicine is a process of lifelong learning that requires up-to-date and insightful syntheses of existing evidence. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are an effective method for consolidating high-volume, rapidly accruing and often conflicting scientific studies on a specific topic. Systematic reviews are crucial for the avoidance of research waste, by ensuring that new primary research is performed with full knowledge of what has already been conducted, and that new research evidence is interpreted in light of what is already known.1 Systematic reviews have become an invaluable resource in the sports medicine and rehabilitation literature that generates high-quality evidence and enhance clinical decision-making.

A successful systematic review project depends on how well the authors formulate the research question based on their preliminary search and/or their clinical interest. Each systematic review type needs a specific review question format to help authors focus specifically on elements related to their study. The current proliferation of review types is creating challenges to the terminology for describing such reviews.2 Hence, this paper aims to summarise and propose several formats to generate appropriate review questions in the field of sports medicine and rehabilitation research.

Different types of systematic reviews

Systematic review methodology was pioneered in health sciences in the 1980s, and the number of systematic reviews published each year has exponentially increased since 1990. A preliminary search in the PubMed database showed that annual publications of systematic reviews in …

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to the conception of this editorial. MP wrote the first draft of the manuscript. SD, BK, AK, MN and MAM suggested critical revisions and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.