In the sphere of scholarly medical research, the methodology of systematic review has been repeatedly used as a means of an integrative investigation of the scope of evidence on a particular issue or topic. Such an approach allows for credible and objective incorporation of the findings of some pivotal studies to validate healthcare-related solutions. However, two primary types of systematic reviews might yield different implications for a DNP practice scholar when implementing evidence-based practice solutions. In particular, meta-analysis and meta-synthesis are commonly used by researchers to conduct systematic reviews.
First, it is relevant to define each method to identify its practical application in a research process. A meta-analysis is an approach to a systematic review, during which the evidential findings from quantitative studies are incorporated for the following statistical analysis. This approach “increases statistical power and generalizability of evidence, summarizing, for example, outcomes from intervention studies” (Malterud, 2019, p. 10). On the other hand, meta-synthesis is an approach that incorporates the findings of qualitative studies to generate new insights based on available results (Lachal et al., 2017). Thus, the definitions of the terms imply some core differences between the two methodologies, which lie in the usage of data from the studies and the practical application of the systematic review results.
Meta-analysis predominantly deals with quantitative data; such findings might produce the most benefits for finding the most effective therapy or medicine for a disease. As for meta-synthesis, which particularly relies on qualitative data, it might be useful when generating new theories or treatment approaches based on the synthesized findings. For a DNP practice scholar, meta-synthesis serves as a tool of re-conceptualizing researched phenomena to generate novelty in medicine. Unlike purely objective meta-analysis, meta-synthesis allows for scholars’ subjectivity for the purposes of the originality of insights (Lachal et al., 2017). Despite the differences, the two compared methodologies are similarly based on their primary dependence on the findings already existing in the academic and professional circles, limiting both approaches’ opportunities to the data produced by reviewed articles. Overall, when used purposefully, both methodologies are capable of contributing valuable evidence for evidence-based medical practice.
The research question focuses on whether promoting education and physical activity leads to a reduced incidence of diabetes among people with prediabetes. Glechner et al. (2018) conducted a systematic review with meta-analysis to identify what evidence from randomized controlled trials describes this topic. According to the researchers, regular physical activity resulted in the fact that fewer people with prediabetes became diagnosed with diabetes. Simultaneously, participants’ body mass index was lower, which also predicted a reduced incidence of the health condition under analysis. This evidence is sufficient to stipulate that the article results answer the stipulated research question.
Irrespective of slight inefficiencies, the article was comprehensible and reproducible. The appraisal procedure has allowed for identifying a few positive features of a scientific study. For example, the authors identified the variables of interest, focused on multiple databases, developed inclusion and exclusion criteria, and included specific details of individuals studies (Glechner et al., 2018). Furthermore, the researchers appraised the quality of included articles and created high-quality conclusions (Glechner et al., 2018). However, some inefficiencies refer to the fact that key terms were not explicitly mentioned, and a flow diagram showing how many articles were eliminated was omitted.
Even though the article does not test the effectiveness of a particular intervention, it presents such evidence found in other studies. In particular, the authors stipulate that lifestyle modification is an effective strategy, compared to the standard of care, to reduce diabetes incidence. These findings demonstrate that it is rational to implement the given practice. According to the identified Observable Measures, I will use the selected systematic review because it utilized a scientific approach and relied on statistical tests to determine the effectiveness of the chosen intervention.
Glechner, A., Keuchel, L., Affengruber, L., Titscher, V., Sommer, I., Matyas, N., Wagner, G., Kien, C., Klerings, I., & Gartlehner, G. (2018). Effects of lifestyle changes on adults with prediabetes: A systematic review with meta-analysis. Primary Care Diabetes, 12(5), 393-408.
Lachal, J., Revah-Levy, A., Orri, M., & Moro, M. R. (2017). Metasynthesis: An original method to synthesize qualitative literature in psychiatry. Frontiers in Psychiatry,8(269), 1-9.
Malterud, K. (2019). The impact of evidence-based medicine on qualitative metasynthesis: Benefits to be harvested and warnings to be given. Qualitative Health Research, 29(1), 7-17.