The Interpretation (or Discussion) section of the systematic review helps readers interpret the main findings of the review, brought together in the synthesis step.
The interpretation should include:
The interpretation should strike a balance between objectively describing the findings, and subjectively speculating on their meaning.1 For example, a finding may be based on high-quality evidence but how applicable is it to a clinical setting?
Discuss limitations at study and outcome level (e.g., risk of bias), and at review-level (e.g., incomplete retrieval of identified research, reporting bias).
The interpretation should comment on the relevance of the findings to key groups, that is, what are the practical implications for groups such as healthcare providers, users, and policy makers?
State any unanswered questions and implications for further research.2
1. University of York, NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination. (2009). Systematic reviews: CRD's guidance for undertaking reviews in health care, 3rd ed. York, England : The Centre. Available: https://www.york.ac.uk/crd/guidance/
2. Higgins, P.T., & Green, S. (eds.). (2008). Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions. Chichester, England ; Hoboken, NJ : Wiley- Blackwell. Available: http://handbook.cochrane.org/