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case management, critical appraisal, evidence-based practice, research, sources of evidence, systematic review



  1. Throckmorton, Terry PhD, RN
  2. Windle, Pamela E. MS, RN, NE-BC, CPAN, CAPA


Objectives: This article aims to (1) describe the steps in the development of a systematic review, (2) discuss the use of systematic reviews in developing an evidence base for case management practice, and (3) present listings of agencies that provide systematic reviews on clinical topics and resources to evaluate systematic reviews for application to practice.


Primary Practice Settings: Evidence-based practice is mandated for all healthcare professionals regardless of setting. For nonacademic settings, a lack of library resources may make this mandate difficult to accomplish. Systematic reviews are available through agency Web sites and, therefore, are accessible to anyone with Internet access.


Findings/Conclusions: Evidence-based practice supports professionalism, patient safety, and quality care. However, most case managers, have heavy workloads and limited time to complete literature reviews adequate to provide a basis for clinical decision making. For that reason, systematic reviews are developed and published by a variety of professional groups, including clinicians, academics, researchers, and library systems. This article focuses on the systematic review and includes definitions, a comparison of types of reviews, the process for completing systematic reviews, sources of systematic reviews, and tools used to critique them.


Implications for Case Management Practice: Systematic reviews can be helpful tools to allow busy case managers to provide the safest and most effective care to their patients. They can support the development of guidelines specific to case management such as transitioning care to other institutions or to the patient's home, management of the patient in the community, and prevention of recidivism or unplanned return to an acute care setting.