Using PRISMA for Systematic Reviews

PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) is a helpful tool for writing a systematic review manuscript. The PRISMA checklist provides a list of 27 items that should be reported to ensure the methods of the systematic review are explained thoroughly and are replicable. Hundreds of journals, like the Lancet and JAMA, have endorsed using PRISMA and may require its usage for published reviews.1

Though it can be helpful to review the PRISMA checklist early in your systematic review project, it does not provide guidelines or instructions for completing a review. It is not accurate to state in a manuscript that you “followed PRISMA guidelines” when conducting your review. Reviewers that would like to review guidelines should instead consult these resources:

Another useful tool from PRISMA is the Flow Diagram. The downloadable diagram is used to show the initial number of search results, and the number of results excluded and included in your final review. Many journals require submitting a flow diagram with your publication. Here is an example of a PRISMA flow diagram2:

PRISMA flow diagram

In addition to systematic review resources, PRISMA also provides reporting checklists for other types of reviews:

Please contact if you have any questions about using PRISMA for your systematic review project.

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  2. Diagram image from: Lewkowitz AK, Whelan AR, Ayala NK, Hardi A, Stoll C, Battle CL, Tuuli MG, Ranney ML, Miller ES. The effect of digital health interventions on postpartum depression or anxiety: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2024 Jan;230(1):12-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2023.06.028. Epub 2023 Jun 15. PMID: 37330123; PMCID: PMC10721728. ↩︎