Nutritional Research Series

Full Title: Advancing the Role of Systematic Reviews in Nutrition Research and Applications

The medical and clinical communities have effectively used systematic reviews to develop clinical and public health practice guidelines, set research agendas, and develop scientific consensus statements. However, the use of systematic reviews in nutrition applications is more recent and limited. The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been proactive and developed an evidence-based review program using the Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPC) Program established by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), as part of a Congressional mandate to review the current scientific evidence on the efficacy and safety of dietary supplements and identify research needs (http://ods.od.nih.gov/Research/Evidence-Based_Review_Program.aspx).

To date, this program has sponsored 17 evidence reports on a range of supplement-related topics including B-vitamins, ephedra, multivitamin/mineral supplements, omega-3 fatty acids, soy, and vitamin D. ODS is currently sponsoring an augmentation of the vitamin D report published in August 2007 to provide relevant information for a pending Institute of Medicine review of the current Dietary Reference Intakes for vitamin D and calcium. The completed ODS-sponsored evidence reports have resulted in numerous associated publications in scientific journals, have formed the basis for an NIH-sponsored state-of-the-science conference, and have been used to assist in setting research agendas.

To facilitate a better understanding of the challenges involved in conducting nutrition-related systematic reviews and in integrating these reviews with nutrition applications for which such reviews have not been previously used, ODS has sponsored the development of a series of technical reports via the EPC Program The purpose of these reports was to:

  1. Identify the challenges, advantages, and limitations of conducting nutrition-based systematic reviews.
  2. Work with a panel of experts to explore approaches for integrating systematic reviews into processes associated with the derivation of nutrient intake reference values.
  3. Identify the breadth and quality of currently available nutrition-related systematic reviews against generally accepted quality guidelines within the context of the unique needs for nutrition topics.
  4. Critically explore the consistencies and inconsistencies in results between observational and intervention studies and evaluate how the formulation of research questions may have contributed to these discrepancies.

We welcome comments on all our reports. They may be sent by E-mail to epc@ahrq.gov.

Technical Reviews

Nutritional Research Series: Advancing the Role of Evidence-based Reviews in Nutrition Research and Applications

Other Publications

  • Lichtenstein AH, Yetley EA, Lau J. Application of systematic review methodology to the field of nutrition. J Nutr 2008 138:2297-306. Select for abstract
Current as of May 2013
Internet Citation: Nutritional Research Series. May 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/evidence-based-reports/tr17-series.html