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Living systematic reviews

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses (including network meta-analyses) are increasingly being updated and are evolving into ‘living systematic reviews’ (LSRs). As a result of rapid developments in medical science and current pharmacotherapeutic issues, the ‘survival time’ of systematic reviews is limited. Unlike conventional systematic reviews, living systematic reviews are updated more frequently, according to a predefined schedule. Methods and quality requirements for their design are largely identical. Living systematic reviews are essential for the formulation and updating of guidelines.

  • Rapid developments in drugs mean that the period during which systematic reviews and meta-analyses (including network meta-analyses) remain useful is limited. 
  • One solution is that of living systematic reviews and meta-analyses, which are frequently updated, in a predefined schedule.
  • Like traditional systematic reviews, living systematic reviews must meet established quality requirements. 
  • Guidelines should preferably be based on living systematic reviews, enabling any gaps to be filled as soon as possible.

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The literature refers to the Dutch text.


  • Leo M.L. Stolk, dr
  • Rutger A. Middelburg