An umbrella review is a synthesis of previously published systematic reviews. The process of conducting an umbrella review is similar to a systematic review.
The basic steps include:
1. Develop an umbrella review protocol
This step will include a clear research question, a list of inclusion criteria, a search strategy, and how references will be screened and analyzed.
2. Conduct the search
The search strategy should have a robust search string and used in multiple sources. A mixture of literature databases and grey literature should be used. Read more about developing a search strategy on the Systematic Review Guide.
3. Screen and analyze the results
One key difference in screening articles in an umbrella review compared to a systematic review, is that all publication types must be either a systematic review or a meta-analysis. Results are screened for relevance to the research question and methodological quality.
Critical appraisal checklist for systematic reviews and research syntheses
4. Report the findings
A narrative description of the review should provide context about the results. A reader should have enough detail to understand why certain publications were included and how they answer the research question. The presentation of results should also contain a flow chart of the review process and highlight specific points of interest from individual reviews.
Other names for Umbrella Reviews: Systematic Review of Systematic Reviews, Review of Reviews, Summary of Systematic Reviews, Synthesis of Reviews, Review of Systematic Reviews, Review of Reviews, Review of Meta-analyses, Meta-review, Systematic Meta-review, Overview of Reviews
Adapted from Aromataris, Edoardo1; Fernandez, Ritin2; Godfrey, Christina M.3; Holly, Cheryl4; Khalil, Hanan5; Tungpunkom, Patraporn6 Summarizing systematic reviews, International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare: September 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 3 - p 132-140 doi: 10.1097/XEB.0000000000000055