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Conference highlights importance of systematic reviews on research

1 May 2012

Janet Peters speaking at the SysNet conference

Director of University Libraries, Janet Peters, speaking at the SysNet conference.

The impact of systematic reviews on healthcare research and practice was highlighted during the first annual SysNet conference at Cardiff University.

SysNet, the Cardiff University Systematic Review Network is funded by the University's five health schools, and provides support and advice in undertaking systematic reviews. SysNet is unique in the UK and within Europe in its encouragement of collaboration and cross-discipline working in the field of systematic reviews.

The SysNet conference was an opportunity for medical and health professionals, social scientists, public health research practitioners and information specialists to discuss and debate how systematic reviews inform policy and practice, as well as showcasing Cardiff's expertise in conducting systematic reviews.

Janet Peters, Director of University Libraries in the Information Services Directorate, welcomed Sir Iain and the delegates to Archie Cochrane country.

Sir Iain Chalmers with the conference steering group

Sir Iain Chalmers with the conference steering group.

Sir Iain Chalmers, one of the co-founders of the international Cochrane Collaboration, delivered the conference's keynote speech, in which he highlighted the importance of systematic reviews, not only in ensuring value for research investment, but in helping to protect users of health services and participants in clinical trials.

"The medical community has a responsibility to undertake systematic reviews of existing evidence before proceeding with additional research," said Sir Iain. "We can often learn a great deal by assessing systematically what can be learnt from previous research.

"This is why SysNet is so valuable to patients and the public. As far as I am aware, no other city has a comparable network to encourage academics and practitioners to explore and learn from existing research in their area," continued Sir Iain.

The conference also featured a panel discussion, chaired by Professor Philip Routledge, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology, Cardiff University School of Medicine, with the panel consisting of Sir Iain Chalmers; Professor Baroness Finlay, Professor of Palliative Medicine, Cardiff University School of Medicine; Dr Sara Hayes, Director of Public Health, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board; and Professor Billie Hunter, RCM Professor of Midwifery, Cardiff School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies.

In the afternoon, there were oral and poster presentations of systematic reviews from across the University. The conference closed with an inspiring summary by Professor Chris Butler, Institute Director, Institute of Primary Care and Public Health at Cardiff University.

For an inaugural conference to attract a Knight, a Baroness and the Chief Medical Officer for Wales - Dr Tony Jewell - the work of SysNet in promoting the incalculable value of Systematic Reviews was clearly demonstrated.

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