New guidance on using qualitative evidence synthesis for guidelines

9 August, 2019

Dear HIFA colleagues

I’m pleased to let you know that we have just published new guidance on using qualitative evidence synthesis for guidelines. This series of papers, available in Health Research Policy and Systems, was commissioned by the WHO in response to requests for direction on how to use qualitative evidence syntheses in guidelines. The papers were authored by a team from WHO, Cochrane staff at the Norwegian Public Health Institute and the University of Central Lancashire.

Evidence-based guidelines for clinical conditions and health systems, such as those produced by WHO, typically focus on quantitative evidence from reviews of effectiveness. However, guideline panels also discuss issues such as the cost, acceptability and feasibility of an intervention and its potential implications for equity and human rights. This has often been done in an unsystematic way, though - reviews of qualitative research can help guideline panels look at these issues more systematically.

The series showcases several Cochrane qualitative evidence syntheses and offers practical advice to others who want to include this type of evidence in guidelines, providing examples of what was done well, and the lessons learnt. We also highlight knowledge gaps for further research and practice.

The open access papers are available here:

Using qualitative evidence synthesis to inform guideline scope and develop qualitative findings statements (led by Soo Downe)

Using qualitative evidence synthesis findings to inform evidence-to-decision frameworks and recommendations (led by Simon Lewin)

Using qualitative evidence syntheses to develop implementation considerations and inform implementation processes (led by Claire Glenton)

For more on the series:

Best wishes


HIFA profile: Simon Lewin is a health systems researcher at the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services ( and the Medical Research Council of South Africa ( His work is mainly in the field of implementation research, including systematic reviews of health systems interventions; the development and evaluation of strategies for changing professional and user behaviours and the organization of care; and the use of lay or community health workers to deliver care. He is an editor for the Cochrane Consumers and Communication Review Group and the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Review Group. He is a member of the HIFA working group on CHWs:

Email: simon.lewin AT