Knowledge Synthesis

One of the Knowledge Synthesis team's major initiatives is overseeing Mayo Clinic's activities as an Evidence-Based Practice Center — a designation from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Knowledge synthesis is an area of research in health care delivery science that evaluates and summarizes all available evidence on a particular topic through comprehensive literature searches and advanced qualitative and quantitative synthesis methods. The process includes conducting systematic reviews, meta-analysis, clinical practice guidelines and methodology research.

The Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery offers this service to Mayo's clinical practice to ensure that resources are not wasted pursuing questions that have already been answered elsewhere, as well as to identify gaps in knowledge or implementation that Mayo can fill. Knowledge synthesis greatly strengthens Mayo's ability to develop clinical guidelines based on evidence and best practices.

Areas of focus

  • Providing the least biased and most precise and applicable results to stakeholders by conducting systematic reviews and meta-analysis
  • Assisting professional organizations and medical societies in developing clinical practice guidelines that incorporate patients' values and preferences
  • Conducting methodology research to advance the methods of translational research
  • Ensuring that resources are not wasted pursuing research questions that have already been answered
  • Creating future research agendas by identifying gaps in knowledge


Examples of the work and major initiatives undertaken by the Knowledge Synthesis program include:

  • AHRQ-sponsored systematic review on the management of anxiety in children. This project engages stakeholders — clinical experts, patient advocates, researchers, payers and government representatives — to develop clinical questions that are most critical to decision-making. A comprehensive evidence synthesis takes place to summarize the cumulative knowledge about the topic guided by stakeholders' feedback. The results will inform policy and decision-making in the U.S. about managing anxiety disorders in children.
  • A methodology initiative involving meta-epidemiologic studies investigating the effect of stopping randomized trials for benefit. This series of studies, conducted over the last decade, first described the epidemiology of the phenomenon, followed by reporting on the ethical implications of stopping trials early, followed by quantifying the bias associated with this phenomenon, and lastly by demonstrating the incidence of new trials launched after truncated trials to answer the same original question.
  • A methodology initiative to explore the Proteus phenomenon. The Proteus phenomenon occurs when trials published early in the chain of evidence demonstrate an exaggerated effect size and large heterogeneity. The goal of this project is to ultimately identify the conditions associated with this phenomenon to help decision-makers act on evidence derived from early trials of novel interventions.


M. Hassan Murad, M.D.

Zhen Wang, Ph.D.