How to plan and implement synthesis questions (part 1): using the InSynQ checklist and guide for question development

Date & Time
Wednesday, September 6, 2023, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Location Name
Session Type
Workshop - training
Transformation of Cochrane systems and processes for evidence synthesis
Target audience
Review authors (any level of experience), editors, methodologists
Level of difficulty

Background: This is the first of a two-part workshop. This session introduces the InSynQ (Intervention Synthesis Questions) checklist and guide which aims to facilitate the development and reporting of the questions addressed in systematic reviews. The concept of defining a review ‘question’ (the objective) and developing criteria for including studies in the review using the patient/population, intervention, comparison and outcomes (PICO) framework is familiar to most authors. However, without changing the review eligibility criteria, the synthesis can be structured to address different questions (e.g., broader or narrower) simply by grouping the interventions, outcomes or populations differently. The results of a systematic review are ultimately determined by these synthesis questions and the decisions authors take in deciding which studies are eligible to answer each question. Version 6 of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions introduced the concept of ‘PICO for each synthesis’ to bring greater focus on the need to plan and report details of the synthesis questions addressed in a systematic review. InSynQ ( provides a practical tool to help implement this guidance. Objectives
• To demonstrate the importance and process of planning the PICO for each synthesis (i.e., the grouping and comparisons) through application in a practical example; and
• To introduce the InSynQ tool and show how it can be used to develop and report synthesis questions in a protocol and review.
Description: Based on the guidance in Chapters 2, 3 and 9 of the Cochrane Handbook, we will use a combination of group work, (fun) interactive exercises and short presentations to cover the following topics.
• Deciding how interventions and outcomes will be grouped (small-group work and discussion to plan a hypothetical synthesis)
• Using InSynQ to define your synthesis questions and PICO criteria for each comparison (interactive example) Workshop participants will gain an appreciation for the need to plan and fully specify their synthesis questions and an understanding of how InSynQ can be used for this purpose.

Ryan R1
1Cochrane Consumers and Communication, Latrobe University, Australia