Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why should I sign-up as a registered user of this site?
    Becoming a registered user of Health Evidence™ will give you access to search our registry of 9,383 quality-rated systematic reviews evaluating the effectiveness of public health interventions. In addition, we tailor our monthly registry email updates to your profile so that you only receive links to new reviews that are relevant to you.
  2. Is there a charge for the services provided by Health Evidence™?
    It is free to search the Health Evidence™ registry of reviews.

    In addition to our registry of reviews, we offer paid consultation services to assist individuals, teams, divisions and organizations in interpreting research evidence and applying it to program and policy decisions. Consultation is available by phone or email, as well as in person or via live webinar.
  3. Can I access the full-text articles?
    While Health Evidence™ has not purchased copyright permissions to provide the full-text for all reviews in our registry, we do provide links to the full-text of all articles published in open-access journals as well as all articles housed in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. To access, link to Article full-text (free) or Article full-text in the Related Materials section on the right-hand side of an article abstract. Free access to full-text Cochrane reviews is currently unavailable in Canada, but you may have access if your institution holds a subscription to the Cochrane Library. Contact your librarian or IT department to inquire about your institution’s current holdings.

    Using the Advanced Search feature, you can limit your search to display only articles with links to free full text and/or links to full text in the Cochrane Library. You can access these limits in the section Text Options.
  4. What process does a review go through to be added to the registry?
    Health Evidence™ staff screen all reviews for relevance to public health and health promotion (view relevance tool), and index them using common public health and health promotion terms. Two staff members independently appraise each review for methodological quality (view quality assessment tool). Discrepancies in review quality rating are resolved by discussion, and the final review quality rating is agreed upon by both reviewers. A third reviewer assists in reaching consensus when necessary.
  5. How do I export my results?
    When you log in you can export up to 50 review citations from your search results page. Select the results you want to export, then click on 'Export references' (located in the right-hand box, under 'Results Options'). The export will be in RIS file format, which is a .txt file. Save the file, then browse to it using your favourite reference management software (e.g., Reference Manager, RefWorks). If you are prompted to select the import filter or file format for the import, select RISID.
  6. Why does Health Evidence™ only include and appraise reviews that synthesize quantitative studies?
    Health Evidence™ appraises reviews that include quantitative studies or a mix of both quantitative and qualitative studies. We do not appraise reviews that include only qualitative studies. Qualitative reviews synthesize qualitative evidence to address questions on aspects other than effectiveness. While we acknowledge the usefulness of qualitative reviews in providing information on the feasibility and acceptability of interventions and barriers and facilitators to implementing an intervention, reviews that do not evaluate effectiveness of an intervention / program / service / policy do not currently meet our relevance criteria.
  7. What about privacy?
    Health Evidence™ does not collect information that personally identifies individuals except when individuals provide such specific information on a voluntary basis. Individual information provided to Health Evidence™ will not be sold or made available to a third party. By using this website you are agreeing to comply with and be bound by our terms of use. Please review these terms carefully
  8. Why doesn’t Health Evidence™ use the AMSTAR tool to assess systematic reviews?
    The AMSTAR tool provides comprehensive, sound, and well-tested criteria ( for assessing the methodological quality of review-level literature in healthcare. We believe however, that when the AMSTAR tool is applied to public health intervention literature that the proportion of reviews assessed as high methodological quality would drop dramatically due to the following AMSTAR requirements:
    • Reviews list excluded reviews, as well as MeSH/search terms – due to journal word limits, review authors are often unable to include these supporting materials
    • A pre-published protocol, or pre-published a priori research objectives – many well-done reviews published outside of The Cochrane Library would likely lose a point on this quality criterion
    • Grey (i.e., unpublished) literature search – while inclusion of grey literature helps reduce a review’s bias, review authors may not have sufficient resources to search for and process grey literature. We are hesitant to penalize reviews that have an otherwise comprehensive search strategy (e.g., reference lists, electronic databases, expert contacts)
  9. What is similar between the AMSTAR and Health Evidence™ Quality Assessment tools?
    BOTH tools require that reviews:
    • Develop a focused research question
    • Use a comprehensive search strategy
    • Clearly present the characteristics of included studies
    • Use appropriate methods when combining study results (e.g., random-effects model vs. fixed-effects model)
    • Consider the quality of primary studies when formulating their conclusions
    • Provide a summative quality score, with similar classification ranges. For instance, a review scoring between 8-10 on the Health Evidence™ tool is considered strong, while a review scoring between 8-11 is considered strong on the AMSTAR tool
  10. What is unique about the Health Evidence™ Quality Assessment tool?
    • Separately scores the presence of an adequate research question and adequate inclusion criteria (criteria #1 & #2)
    • Requires two types of ‘supplementary’ searching (e.g. reference lists, content experts, grey literature) (criterion #3)
    • Requires a minimum search span of 10 years (criterion #4)
    • Requires the level of evidence used in the review (e.g., RCT) to be disclosed (criterion #5)
    • Requires a minimum assessment of 4/7 quality components of included primary studies (criterion #6)
    • Requires independent quality assessment of primary studies AND a disclosed consensus procedure for managing disagreements (criterion #7)
    • Recognizes weighting by study size – in the case of meta-analyses – to be adequate, in lieu of narrative discussion of quality in conclusion formulation (criterion #9)
  11. How do you cite an evidence summary written by Health Evidence™?
    The citation should follow APA, 6th edition, 2nd printing:
    Author(s) of evidence summary. (Year). Evidence summary (title as appears on Health Evidence™). Retrieved from (URL).

    For example:
    DeCorby, K., McRae, L., & Dobbins, M. (June 2012). School-based marijuana and alcohol prevention programs targeting adolescents aged 10-15: Evidence and implications for public health. Retrieved from
  12. How do I sign-up for a live webinar?
    Upcoming webinar topics and dates are listed on the Health Evidence™ WebEx page: You can view event details by clicking on the webinar title. Registration is free.
  13. If I am unable to attend the live webinar, can I still access the materials?
    Yes, presentation slides, webinar recordings and the Health Evidence™ summary of the evidence presented in the session, along with implications for policy and practice, can be accessed in the Webinar Recordings section of our Webinars page.
  14. Help! I am in a live webinar session and I cannot hear the presenter.
    First check that your computer speakers are unmuted. Then go to Communicate > Speaker / Microphone Audio Test. Click on the “Test” button at the top right. You should hear a series of tones. Adjust your volume accordingly using the + and – icons.

    If you still cannot hear the presenter, contact the WexEx 24/7 line: 1-866-229-3239.
  15. Do I need a microphone to attend a live webinar?
    No, you will be able to ask questions and contribute to any discussion by using the text-based Chat and Q&A features. We will review how to use these features at the start of each webinar.
  16. How can I find out about future webinars in my area of interest?
    Upcoming webinars are listed in the Upcoming Live Webinars section of our Webinars page.