Analysis of Systematic Reviews in Clinical Practice Guidelines for Head and Neck Cancer

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Objective: Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) are essential to clinical decision-making as their recommendations are supported by published literature. Systematic reviews are considered the highest quality of evidence used to underpin these guidelines. However, research to support these recommendations may lack compliance to quality reporting among systematic reviews (SRs). Here, we aim to evaluate the quality of SRs underpinning CPG recommendations for the management of head and neck cancer (HNC). Study Design: Retrospective cross-sectional analysis. 

Methods: Using PubMed, we searched for CPGs pertinent to the management of head and neck cancer published between January 2017 and May 2021. Relevant guidelines were analyzed for all SRs. Cited SRs in CPGs were evaluated using A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews-2 (AMSTAR-2) and Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) instruments. Study characteristics were extracted in a masked triplicate fashion. 

Results: A total of 16 CPGs and 142 unique SRs were included in our study. PRISMA completion ranged from 67.15% to 87.65% across CPGs with a mean of 76.41% (SD = 16.9). AMSTAR-2 completion ranged from 34.38% to 84.38% across CPGs with a mean of 67.55% (SD = 20.9) among all SRs. The lowest rated items included funding sources and publication bias. A higher score was achieved in SR done by Cochrane group and it was only 2.11% (3/142) of all SR's quoted in CPG. 

Conclusion: Adherence to AMSTAR-2 and PRISMA items exhibits a variation among SRs cited in CPGs for the management of HNC. The mature underpinning CPG recommendation of SRs cited as supportive evidence could be enhanced in reporting quality. 

Level of Evidence: n/a Laryngoscope, 2022.

Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • AMSTAR-2
  • Head and neck cancer
  • clinical practice guidelines
  • meta-analysis
  • systematic reviews


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