Updating of quantitative systematic reviews and statistical meta-analyses is now mainstream practice. Several organizations, including the Cochrane Collaboration, recommend updating every two years, while there is also evidence to suggest that a considerable number of clinically relevant reviews may become obsolete within one year of publication or even less. Paradoxically enough, the same does not apply for systematic reviews and syntheses of qualitative evidence, for which to date there has been almost no consideration of whether or how they can be updated. Implicit in this failure could be the assumption that beliefs, needs, and experiences remain unchanged over time or that these are shaped in a vacuum, without any influence from external factors. In this seminar, I will outline the main benefits and challenges of updating a qualitative synthesis, as those emerged from our own endeavour to update a 2011 meta-ethnography of GPs’ experiences of antibiotic prescribing for acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs), including their views of interventions aimed at more prudent prescribing.
Evi Germeni joined the Health Experiences Research Group (HERG) in November 2016 thanks to an Advanced Postdoc Mobility Fellowship that she won from the Swiss National Science Foundation. She has a background in Health Communication, with considerable focus on qualitative research approaches. She spent the first part of her fellowship at the University of Exeter Medical School, working on issues related to the updating of qualitative syntheses. Before coming to the UK, she worked as Postdoctoral Researcher and Lecturer of Qualitative Research Methods in Health Communication at the University of Lugano, Switzerland.