Data analysis was conducted for each health topic separately, with findings organised in relation to the key issues of quantity and quality of the evidence base. To increase clarity of the final results, the studies selected at Stage Five were arranged into three main categories of evidence (Table 1):
As indicated in Table 1, Categories A and B roughly correspond to evidence that is expected to be of high to moderate quality. Given the generally much weaker value of evidence in Category C, data extracted from studies classified as Category C was limited to the existence of the study alone.
The quality assessment of studies (Categories A and B) included in the systematic literature review were reviewed based upon criteria adapted from the STROBE and CONSORT standards for observational studies and clinical trials, respectively. The adaptations are outlined in Table 2 and scoring levels given in Table 3.
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