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Lisa Hartling and colleagues provide first data about validity and
feasibility of the risk of bias tool which is recommended by the Cochrane
Collaboration for quality assessment in systematic reviews. Their findings
are essential for both reviewers and critical readers of systematic
reviews. In addition to their recommendation of an explicit a priori
definition of how to use the tool in a systematic review I would like to
propose to add this information in the review protocol. This protocol as
it was most recently recommended within the PRISMA statement  could
help to improve the quality of systematic reviews. Furthermore
registration (possible at www.crd.york.ac.uk) and publication of these
protocols may help other researchers in this field to use the risk of bias
tool more appropriately.
 Liberati A, Altman DG, Tetzlaff J, Mulrow C, Gøtzsche PC,
Ioannidis JP, Clarke M, Devereaux PJ, Kleijnen J, Moher D. The PRISMA
statement for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses of studies
that evaluate healthcare interventions: explanation and elaboration. BMJ
2009 Jul 21;339:b2700. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b2700.
No competing interests
24 October 2009
Department of General Practice and Health Services Research, University Hospital Heidelberg, Germany