Cochrane-Campbell Handbook for Qualitative Evidence Synthesis

Cochrane-Campbell Handbook for Qualitative Evidence Synthesis
Cochrane-Campbell Handbook for Qualitative Evidence Synthesis


Version 1.0, 2023

The Cochrane-Campbell Handbook for Qualitative Evidence Synthesis is the official guide that describes in detail the process of preparing and maintaining systematic reviews of qualitative evidence for Cochrane and Campbell reviews. The Handbook has been produced by the Cochrane Qualitative and Implementation Methods Group and members of the Campbell Qualitative Evidence Synthesis working group. It is a step-by-step guide for those conducting systematic reviews of qualitative evidence and a reference for more experienced authors.

The Handbook is applicable to all systematic reviews of qualitative evidence, though it is specifically relevant to Cochrane and Campbell Reviews. Part 1 covers the core methods used in Cochrane systematic reviews of qualitative evidence. Part 2 introduces a collection of chapters detailing other relevant methods to consider for the systematic review of qualitative evidence. These methods have not yet been fully tested as core methods for Cochrane Reviews. The chapters in Part 2 cover methods that are either a) established within the wider systematic review community but have not yet been fully utilised in Cochrane or Campbell Reviews or b) relatively novel but with a significant body of published methodological work behind them. Part 3 covers how to report a systematic review of qualitative evidence and provides guidance on how to peer review a qualitative evidence synthesis. 

Chapters are available below for personal use via a Cochrane Account (don't have an account? Set one up for free here). 

Part 1: Core methods

  1. Starting a qualitative evidence synthesis 
  2. Defining the review scope and formulating review questions
  3. Selecting and using theory
  4. Developing and using logic models
  5. Searching for and identifying studies
  6. Selecting studies and sampling
  7. Assessing study methodological strengths and limitations
  8. Selecting a method of synthesis and data extraction
  9. Conducting a framework synthesis
  10. Conducting a thematic synthesis
  11. Conducting a meta-ethnography
  12. Using visual methods to support synthesis
  13. Assessing confidence in the evidence using the GRADE-CERQual approach
  14. Integrating qualitative and quantitative evidence
  15. Conducting time-sensitive reviews

Part 2: Other relevant methods

  1. Conducting a realist synthesis
  2. Reviewing diverse types of implementation evidence
  3. Conducting a qualitative comparative analysis 
  4. Introducing meta-narrative reviews, critical interpretive synthesis, narrative synthesis and meta-aggregation

Part 3: Reporting and peer review

  1. Reporting a protocol and a review
  2. Peer reviewing a protocol or a review

Important notes

  • A book version (first edition) of this Handbook, to be published by Wiley in 2024, will comprise chapters 1–21. The online version will include chapters 1–21 with supplements.
  • Chapters are freely available for personal use only via a Cochrane Account (don't have an account? Set one up here). These chapters are not for general distribution, and all content remains the copyright of Cochrane.
  • These drafts will undergo further work. Further drafts may be posted here before finalization.
  • If you would like feedback on any draft chapters, please use this Form. Your comments will be considered in finalising the drafts for the printed copy of the handbook. 
  • If you use the chapters in your work, please cite the material as set out at the beginning of each chapter, including the exact date of the version.

Editorial team

Jane Noyes (Senior Editor) 
Angela Harden (Senior Editor) 
Heather Ames (Associate Scientific Editor) 
Andrew Booth (Associate Scientific Editor) 
Kate Flemming (Associate Scientific Editor) 
Emma France (Associate Scientific Editor) 
Ruth Garside (Associate Scientific Editor) 
Catherine Houghton (Associate Scientific Editor) 
Tomas Pantoja (Associate Scientific Editor) 
Katy Sutcliffe (Associate Scientific Editor) 
James Thomas (Associate Scientific Editor) 

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