Why, when and how to update a meta-ethnography qualitative synthesis



France E, Wells M, Lang H & Williams B (2016) Why, when and how to update a meta-ethnography qualitative synthesis. Systematic Reviews, 5, Art. No.: 44.

Background  Meta-ethnography is a unique, systematic, qualitative synthesis approach widely used to provide robust evidence on patient and clinician beliefs and experiences and understandings of complex social phenomena. It can make important theoretical and conceptual contributions to health care policy and practice.  Results  Since beliefs, experiences, health care contexts and social phenomena change over time, the continued relevance of the findings from meta-ethnographies cannot be assumed. However, there is little guidance on whether, when and how meta-ethnographies should be updated; Cochrane guidance on updating reviews of intervention effectiveness is unlikely to be fully appropriate. This is the first in-depth discussion on updating a meta-ethnography; it explores why, when and how to update a meta-ethnography. Three main methods of updating the analysis and synthesis are examined. Advantages and disadvantages of each method are outlined, relating to the context, purpose, process and output of the update and the nature of the new data available. Recommendations are made for the appropriate use of each method, and a worked example of updating a meta-ethnography is provided.  Conclusions  This article makes a unique contribution to this evolving area of meta-ethnography methodology.

Cancer; Qualitative analysis; Meta-ethnography; Meta-synthesis; Systematic reviews; Qualitative reviews

Systematic Reviews: Volume 5

Publication date15/03/2016
Publication date online15/03/2016
Date accepted by journal24/02/2016
PublisherBioMed Central

People (2)


Professor Emma France

Professor Emma France

Associate Professor, Health Sciences Stirling

Professor Mary Wells

Professor Mary Wells

Honorary Professor, NMAHP