Skip to Main Content

Library guide for HLSC 3P80

PRISMA Checklist

Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA)

  • Checklist of items deemed essential for transparent reporting of a systematic review
  • Four-phase flow diagram
  • Outlines the sections which should be included in a systematic review or meta-analysis
  • E.g. abstract
  • Eligibility
  • Search Strategy
  • Often applied to other forms of evidence review

Reporting guidelines e.g. PRISMA

  • Goals:
  • Enhance transparency
  • Improve quality of health research reporting
  • Every study method has a reporting guideline which includes:
  • Checklist
  • What should be included
  • The sections of a paper
  • The topics & elements to include in each section
  • Explanation & Elaboration (E&E)
  • The purpose of the element e.g. Introduction, Methods
  • Examples/best practice for describing the element


Reference: Beyond PRISMA: Health Research Reporting Guidelines: Your new secret weapon! Helena M. VonVille, MLS, MPH; University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System; Graduate School of Public Health Liaison

PRISMA and searching

PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) suggests that reviewers present the full electronic search strategy for at least one database as an appendix such that it could be repeated

The search methods should also describe in detail:

  • Other resources searched (trials registries etc.)
  • Other methods of searching utilized (hand-searching, cited reference searching, contacting authors to identify additional studies etc.)

PRISMA provides an example of how to document information sources and search strategies here on pages W-72 - W-73 (items 7 and 8)

Since your search strategy is a significant element of the methods for conducting a rapid review, you will need to:

  • document your search and record:
    • search terms used
    • search operators and syntax
    • number of citations retrieved from each database/information source
  • report your search strategy in the methods section of any published review

Reporting search methods

The search methods section of rapid reviews should describe the database searches in detail, including:

  • Databases and respective platforms searched (e.g. PubMed, Ovid MEDLINE, Wiley Cochrane etc.) as well as:
    • Coverage dates for each database (e.g. 1946 to present)
    • Segments of databases searched, if appropriate (e.g. Ovid Embase Classic+Embase from 1947 to present, Ovid Embase from 1980 to present, Ovid MEDLINE including epub ahead of print, in-process & other non-indexed citations from 1946 to present)
      • Date(s) the databases were last searched
  • Any language or date limits applied to the database searches

PRISMA Flow Diagram