Clinical effectiveness: systematic reviews and evidence-based practice in occupational therapy

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Evidence-based health care can be defined as an approach to health care that involves finding and using up-to-date research into the effectiveness of health care interventions to inform decision making (Entwistle et al, 1996). For many occupational therapists, the practicalities of keeping up to date with the best research evidence is difficult; however, through the National Health Service Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (NHS CRD), the NHS Research and Development (R&D) Programme is aiming to improve the availability of high quality research evidence to all health care professionals. The NHS CRD carries out and commissions systematic reviews. Systematic reviews are a means of pulling together large quantities of research information and are considered to be one of the most reliable sources of information about effectiveness (Chalmers and Altman, 1995). The NHS CRD also disseminates the findings of systematic reviews, one method of which is through the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effectiveness (DARE). The relevance of systematic reviews to the clinical practice of occupational therapists is explored in this paper using two examples: a poor quality and a high quality systematic review identified from the abstracting process for DARE. Both reviews are directly relevant to occupational therapy, being about sensory integration and falls in the elderly respectively. The implications of these reviews for evidence-based practice in occupational therapy are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-483
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 1997


  • evidence based health-care
  • health care professionals
  • NHS R&D
  • DARE
  • systematic reviews
  • occupational therapy


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