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Systematic Reviews

The Academy provides nutrition and dietetics practitioners with evidence-based information and guidance so they may deliver the highest-quality nutrition care to their patients and clients. To that end, the Academy develops several resources — including Evidence-Based Nutrition Practice Guidelines, position papers and consensus statements — to inform members of the latest research on specific topics in the field of nutrition and dietetics and to assist with implementing evidence-based principles into daily practice.

Systematic reviews are a high-level process that collects and critically analyzes multiple research studies or papers on a clearly formulated question using explicit methods to identify, select and critically appraise the primary research.

Systematic reviews are used to develop Evidence-Based Nutrition Practice Guidelines, position papers and consensus statements. The process for developing these resources is as follows:

  1. A scoping review is conducted on the proposed topic to provide an overview of current literature and to assist in determining whether a systematic review is warranted.
  2. If the scoping review reveals a sufficient amount of scientific literature, a systematic review is conducted.
    • An Evidence-Based Nutrition Practice Guideline is developed if the proposed topic has multiple subtopics and requires guidance or formal recommendations for practitioners.
    • A position paper is developed if the proposed topic is controversial, confusing, important for policy or requires clarification and if the systematic review conclusion statement has high-quality evidence — Grade I or Grade II.
    • If the quality of evidence of the systematic review is Grade III or lower, a consensus statement is generated to inform practitioners (but not guide practice).

In addition to the above evidence-based resources, the Academy may issue policy stances (broad-based statements that may contain aspirational language with practice applications for policy or advocacy initiatives) or joint statement/positions (involves collaborating with another organization or external agency).

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