Cochrane EPOC’s template for Qualitative Evidence Syntheses

Date & Time
Wednesday, September 6, 2023, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Location Name
Session Type
Qualitative synthesis methods
Glenton C1, Bohren M2, Downe S3, Paulsen E4, Lewin S5
1Cochrane Norway / Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway
2University of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Australia
3THRIVE Centre, ReaCH group, University of Central Lancashire, UK
4Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway
5Cochrane Person-Centre Care, Health Systems and Public Health Thematic Group, Department of Health Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway

Background/Relevance to Patients: Qualitative research can help us explore how patients and others value and experience many issues, including healthcare options. Decision-makers are increasingly using qualitative evidence syntheses to assess the acceptability and feasibility of these options and identify implementation considerations. Editors and review authors in Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care (EPOC) have collaborated closely in producing qualitative evidence syntheses and have consolidated lessons learnt in a template.
Objectives: To describe a template to improve the reporting and conduct of qualitative evidence syntheses.
Methods: The template was developed by EPOC qualitative evidence synthesis editors and managing editor, with input from review authors and EPOC’s information specialist. The template is based on a series of Cochrane qualitative evidence syntheses in which the core team was involved. We extracted and assessed the content of these reviews by section (e.g., title, abstract, and methods). We then considered feedback from review authors, editors, commissioners and peer reviewers and discussed solutions for each section. During discussions, we strived to follow the theoretical and philosophical principles of qualitative research and to ensure that we followed guidance provided by EPOC and Cochrane. We asked review authors and editors to test the template and give feedback. Results The template includes the following:
• Suggested subheadings for each review section and an explanation of the content needed;
• Where appropriate, proposals for standardised text;
• Links to additional information; and
• Examples for different review sections. When giving explanations and examples, we focused on topics that have received less attention in other sources of guidance, including the following:
• Preparing abstracts and plain language summaries for qualitative evidence syntheses;
• Including and translating studies in multiple languages;
• Approaches for study sampling;
• Considering review author reflexivity;
• Developing ‘Implications for practice’ and ‘Implications for research’ sections; and
• Preparing the declarations of interest statement. The template is freely available at
Conclusions: Now adopted by Cochrane, the template addresses gaps in current guidance, translates existing guidance into practical advice and provides information about Cochrane-specific expectations. The template is a living document, and we continue to update it in response to feedback.