Rating for narrative reviews: concept and development of the International Narrative Systematic Assessment tool

  • Giuseppe La Torre
  • Insa Backhaus
  • Alice Mannocci
Keywords: Narrative reviews, international assessment tool, quality assessment


Background: Narrative reviews differ from systematic reviews in numerous ways. Generally, they tend to be mainly descriptive, do
not involve a systematic search of the literature, and thereby often focus on a subset of studies of a certain topic chosen based on
availability or author selection. These are typical review articles that can be found in most journals. The quality rating of the selected
studies is another crucial point. Surprisingly, at this point of time there are no measures that judge the quality of narrative reviews.
The goal of this study was to design an instrument providing an easy and convenient tool for the quality assessment of narrative
reviews for systematic reviews (International Narrative Systematic assessment, INSA)
Methods: Web searches on PubMed database and Google (considering the firsts 5 pages) have been conducted in February 2015 by
two independent reviewers. No restriction language restriction was applied. The tool designed is an adapted version based on the
available criteria for the quality assessment of systematic reviews. The tool reviewed are: the AMSTAR tool (Shea et al, 2007) and
Overview Quality Assessment Questionnaire (OQAQ) by Oxman and Guyatt (1991).
Results: Eleven epidemiologist and physicians in public health participated in the study. The study results suggest that the instrument
content is sufficiently comprehensive. The reviewers expressed strong support for the instrument's content for assessing the quality of
narrative reviews and are consent about the usefulness of the tool.
Conclusion: The INSA tool is a valid measure of the quality of research overviews.