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Table 1 Going from assessments of risk of bias to judgments about study limitations

From: Specific or general exercise strategy for subacromial impingement syndrome–does it matter? A systematic literature review and meta analysis

Risk of bias Across studies Interpretations Considerations GRADE assessment
Low risk of bias. Most information is from studies at low risk of bias. Plausible bias unlikely to seriously alter the results. No apparent limitations. No serious limitations, do not downgrade.
Unclear risk of bias. Most information is from studies at low or unclear risk of bias. Plausible bias that raises some doubt about the results. Potential limitations are unlikely to lower confidence in the estimate of effect. No serious limitations, do not downgrade.
Potential limitations are likely to lower confidence in the estimate of effect. Serious limitations, downgrade one level.
High risk of bias. The proportion of information from studies at high risk of bias is sufficient to affect the interpretation of results. Plausible bias that seriously weakens confidence in the results. Crucial limitation for one criterion, or some limitations for multiple criteria, sufficient to lower confidence in the estimate of effect. Serious limitations, downgrade one level
Crucial limitation for one or more criteria sufficient to substantially lower confidence in the estimate of effect. Very serious limitations, downgrade two levels.
  1. Adapted from Table 12.2.d from Cochrane Handbook [42]. Further guidelines for factor 1 (of 5) in a GRADE assessment: Going from assessments of risk of bias to judgments about study limitations for main outcomes