A meta-synthesis brings together qualitative data to form a new interpretation of the research field. It helps to generate new theories or an explanatory theory of why the intervention works or not. It creates a hypothesis for future testing or comparison with trial outcomes.
Meta-syntheses are best designed to re-interpret meaning across many qualitative studies.
(S. Atkins et al (2008)
Timeframe: 12 months or less.
Question: "A clearly formulated question helps to set boundaries for the scope and depth of a meta-ethnography" (Atkins S.)
Sources and searches: Not as exhaustive as a systematic review, unless the question requires exhaustive searching. Can search within a particular setting. Search specifically for qualitative studies if possible (be careful with search filters). Search may rely more heavily on inclusion and exclusion criteria.
Selection: Different screening process--includes repeated reading of articles to connect and record concepts or themes.
Appraisal: Focus is on the translation of studies and then systematically compared or 'translated' within and across studies while retaining the structure of the relationships between central concepts/themes and includes a 'thematic analysis'.
Synthesis: Qualitative Differs from a Meta-Analysis (Quantitative) "The goal is not aggregative in the sense of 'adding studies together' as with a meta-analysis. On the contrary, it is interpretative in broadening understanding of a particular phenomenon." (Source: Grant et al (2009))
There are 3 types of synthesis that may be used. A second level of synthesis is possible.
(France EF, Ring N et al 1988)
Source: M. Petticrew et al (2013) and Li T. et al (2001)
Meta-synthesis, Meta-ethnography, Qualitative Evidence Synthesis, Qualitative Meta-Synthesis, Meta narrative review (related)
Adapted with permission from Temple University Libraries. https://guides.temple.edu/systematicreviews