Participants within these groups were selected on their expertise and experience in updating, in previous work developing methods to assess reviews, and because some were recognised for developing approaches within organisations to manage updating strategically.We sought to identify general approaches in this area, and not be specific to Cochrane; although inevitably most of the panel were somehow engaged in Cochrane.
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The workshop structure followed a series of short presentations addressing key questions on whether, when, and how to update systematic reviews.
The proceedings included the management of authorship and editorial decisions, and innovative and technological approaches.
The organising committee selected the panel (web appendix 1).
The organising committee invited participants, put forward the agenda, collected background materials and literature, and drafted the structure of the report.
The guidance was circulated to the larger group three times, with the PUGs panel providing extensive feedback.
This feedback was all considered and carefully addressed by the writing committee.
However, Cochrane’s principle of keeping all reviews up to date has not been possible, and the organisation has had to adapt: from updating when new evidence becomes available,7 to updating every two years,8 to updating based on need and priority.9 This experience has shown that it is not possible, sensible, or feasible to continually update all reviews all the time.
Other groups, including guideline developers and journal editors, adopt updating principles (as applied, for example, by the journal; https://systematicreviewsjournal.biomedcentral.com/).
Updating of systematic reviews is generally more efficient than starting all over again when new evidence emerges, but to date there has been no clear guidance on how to do this.
This guidance helps authors of systematic reviews, commissioners, and editors decide when to update a systematic review, and then how to go about updating the review.
The panel for updating guidance for systematic reviews (PUGs) group met to draw together experiences and identify a common approach.