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Table 3 Study characteristics of the three systematic reviews included for the review

From: The effectiveness of different patient referral systems to shorten waiting times for elective surgeries: systematic review

Author and year Objectives of the systematic review Search criteria No of eligible articles and study designsa Countries of included articles Conclusions (%) & recommendations
Data sources Search date and search period Languages RI NRI OB
Bachelet et al., [44] Scoping review to identify and describe the interventions that have been implemented to reduce waiting times for major elective surgery and to synthesize the best available evidence on the effectiveness of some interventions that were prioritized by our ministerial counterpart MEDLINE/PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, SciELO, DARE-HTA, and Google Scholar All articles up to 2017 were searched in December 2017 Only English and Spanish 1 6 5 Canada, Costa Rica, UK, Spain, Nordic countries All the studies had methodological limitations. According to the evidence found for this review, interventions most likely should be multidimensional, with prioritization strategies on the waiting lists to incorporate equity criteria, together with quality management improvements of the surgical pathways and the use of operating rooms, as well as improvements in the planning of the surgical schedule.
Damani et al., [45] To review and summarise existing research evidence on the scope, use and implementation of SEMs for elective surgical services, specifically with respect to the influence of SEMs on patient flow and waiting times for elective procedures in adults and acceptability of SEMs to patients and providers (general practitioners (GPs) and surgeons). MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, the Cochrane Database for Systematic Reviews, CENTRAL (Cochrane Central Registry of Controlled Trials) and Abstract Business Information (ABI)/Inform All articles up to July 2016 was searched in June 2016 No restrictions 0 5 6 Canada, UK, Australia This review demonstrates a potential ability for SEMs to improve timeliness and patient-centeredness of elective services; however, the small number of low quality studies available does not support firm conclusions about the effectiveness of SEMs to improve access.
Ballini et al., [46] To assess the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing waiting times for elective care, both diagnostic and therapeutic. Cochrane, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, ABI Inform, the Canadian Research Index, The Science, Social Sciences and Humanities Citation Indexes, Pro quest, Trial Registries, Grey literature All up to 2013 No restriction 3 5 0 Not reported As only a handful of low-quality studies are presently available, it was unable to draw any firm conclusions about the effectiveness of the evaluated interventions in reducing waiting times. However, interventions involving the provision of more accessible services (open access or direct booking/referral) show some promise.
  1. aRI Randomised Controlled Interventions, NRI Non Randomised Controlled Interventions, OB Observational studies