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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is AMSTAR?

AMSTAR is an instrument used in assessing the methodological quality of systematic reviews

2. What does AMSTAR stand for?

A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews

3. What is the benefit of using a tool like AMSTAR to assess systematic reviews?

AMSTAR can be used to assess the methodological quality of a systematic review and as a guide to performing a systematic review. Two agreements are required during quality assessment ensuring lower risk of bias. AMSTAR has guidelines explaining each outlined item

4. What is considered a well done systematic review when assessed with AMSTAR

When all the items on the checklist have been addressed.

5. Can AMSTAR Be used to assess non randomized studies?

AMSTAR was created for systematic reviews of RCTs.  However, an upcoming tool, AMSTAR-NRS, is currently being developed for this purpose. If you'd like to contribute to this process please register with us and we will contact you.

6. How can I get a copy of AMSTAR?

Click here, to be redirected to the checklist page. To print, If click 'printer friendly version' on the top right corner of the page.

7. I have never used AMSTAR before where do I begin?

One of the great things about AMSTAR is that an explanation of every item is written out in italics under each and every item on the checklist. Simply follow each item step by step, while reading your review and ensure that all the items have been addressed in the review you are assessing. For the items that are not addressed, check 'no' or 'unclear' if this is the case. Where the item has been fully addressed, check 'yes'

8. Can AMSTAR be used in empty reviews? If so, how does one score the part for included studies?


9. In empty reviews, a scoring summary for each review needs to be provided, so should “Not applicable" be interpreted equally to a "YES"?

10. The plans of doing an RoB assessment, heterogeneity analysis etc. are described, therefore scoring an empty review equal to a regular systematic review that has included studies, but no RoB for instance, seems a little unfair. How would this be handled?

11. Once you have the scores for a paper, is there any distinction between the scores to say this is at low/moderate/high risk of bias? Is there any cut off between the scores?

12. Where and how I quote this review?

13. Do you have a social media page I can follow?

No, not at the moment

14. What is the difference between AMSTAR and R-AMSTAR?

We did NOT develop R-AMSTAR. Our tool is AMSTAR and the AMSTAR_NRS

15. On item 4 & the explanation, Considering "the authors should state [if they] excluded reports on publications status, language etc." - if the answer to this is yes, this would relate to reduced quality. But the note indicates that if there was a search for grey literature, one should indicate "yes" which would relate to higher quality. Thus the first and second explanations contradict each other. I interpret the item as meaning that a yes answer is desirable for a search for grey lit. I think the non-italicized explanation regarding exclusions should be removed or clarified.


16. How should I use AMSTAR tool when for methodological reasons, the systematic review fails to perform a meta-analysis?

17. Should I ignore any questions? If there is no meat-analysis, For example, nine and ten questions

18. My question is not on this list. Who do I contact for more information?

We apologize that you have not received the information you seek. Feel free to contact us here. Post your comments/concerns and a team member will respond to you ASAP.

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