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      Understanding the effects of socioeconomic status along the breast cancer continuum in Australian women: a systematic review of evidence

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          Globally, the provision of equitable outcomes for women with breast cancer is a priority for governments. However, there is growing evidence that a socioeconomic status (SES) gradient exists in outcomes across the breast cancer continuum – namely incidence, diagnosis, treatment, survival and mortality. This systematic review describes this evidence and, because of the importance of place in defining SES, findings are limited to the Australian experience.


          An on-line search of PubMed and the Web of Science identified 44 studies published since 1995 which examined the influence of SES along the continuum. The critique of studies included the study design, the types and scales of SES variable measured, and the results in terms of direction and significance of the relationships found. To aid in the interpretation of results, the findings were discussed in the context of a systems dynamic feedback diagram.


          We found 67 findings which reported 107 relationships between SES within outcomes along the continuum. Results suggest no differences in the participation in screening by SES. Higher incidence was reported in women with higher SES whereas a negative association was reported between SES and diagnosis. Associations with treatment choice were specific to the treatment choice undertaken. Some evidence was found towards greater survival for women with higher SES, however, the evidence for a SES relationship with mortality was less conclusive.


          In a universal health system such as that in Australia, evidence of an SES gradient exists, however, the strength and direction of this relationship varies along the continuum. This is a complex relationship and the heterogeneity in study design, the SES indicator selected and its representative scale further complicates our understanding of its influence. More complex multilevel studies are needed to better understand these relationships, the interactions between predictors and to reduce biases introduced by methodological issues.

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          Preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis protocols (PRISMA-P) 2015 statement

          Systematic reviews should build on a protocol that describes the rationale, hypothesis, and planned methods of the review; few reviews report whether a protocol exists. Detailed, well-described protocols can facilitate the understanding and appraisal of the review methods, as well as the detection of modifications to methods and selective reporting in completed reviews. We describe the development of a reporting guideline, the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses for Protocols 2015 (PRISMA-P 2015). PRISMA-P consists of a 17-item checklist intended to facilitate the preparation and reporting of a robust protocol for the systematic review. Funders and those commissioning reviews might consider mandating the use of the checklist to facilitate the submission of relevant protocol information in funding applications. Similarly, peer reviewers and editors can use the guidance to gauge the completeness and transparency of a systematic review protocol submitted for publication in a journal or other medium.
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            Place effects on health: how can we conceptualise, operationalise and measure them?

            In this paper we highlight what we consider to be a lack of adequate conceptualisation. operationalisation and measurement of "place effects". We briefly review recent historical trends in the study of the effects of place on health in industrial countries, and argue that "place effects" often appear to have the status of a residual category, an unspecified black box of somewhat mystical influences on health which remain after investigators have controlled for a range of individual and place characteristics. We note that the distinction between "composition" and "context" may be more apparent than real, and that features of both material infrastructure and collective social functioning may influence health. We suggest using a framework of universal human needs as a basis for thinking about how places may influence health, and recommend the testing of hypotheses about specific chains of causation that might link place of residence with health outcomes.
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              A process for systematically reviewing the literature: providing the research evidence for public health nursing interventions.

              Several groups have outlined methodologies for systematic literature reviews of the effectiveness of interventions. The Effective Public Health Practice Project (EPHPP) began in 1998. Its mandate is to provide research evidence to guide and support the Ontario Ministry of Health in outlining minimum requirements for public health services in the province. Also, the project is expected to disseminate the results provincially, nationally, and internationally. Most of the reviews are relevant to public health nursing practice. This article describes four issues related to the systematic literature reviews of the effectiveness of public health nursing interventions: (1) the process of systematically reviewing the literature, (2) the development of a quality assessment instrument, (3) the results of the EPHPP to date, and (4) some results of the dissemination strategies used. The eight steps of the systematic review process including question formulation, searching and retrieving the literature, establishing relevance criteria, assessing studies for relevance, assessing relevant studies for methodological quality, data extraction and synthesis, writing the report, and dissemination are outlined. Also, the development and assessment of content and construct validity and intrarater reliability of the quality assessment questionnaire used in the process are described. More than 20 systematic reviews have been completed. Content validity was ascertained by the use of a number of experts to review the questionnaire during its development. Construct validity was demonstrated through comparisons with another highly rated instrument. Intrarater reliability was established using Cohen's Kappa. Dissemination strategies used appear to be effective in that professionals report being aware of the reviews and using them in program planning/policymaking decisions. The EPHPP has demonstrated the ability to adapt the most current methods of systematic literature reviews of effectiveness to questions related to public health nursing. Other positive outcomes from the process include the development of a critical mass of public health researchers and practitioners who can actively participate in the process, and the work on dissemination has been successful in attracting external funds. A program of research in this area is being developed.

                Author and article information

                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0375 4078, GRID grid.1032.0, Centre for Population Health Research, , Curtin University, ; Perth, Australia
                [2 ]CSIRO Health and Biosecurity, Adelaide, Australia
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0375 4078, GRID grid.1032.0, School of Public Health, , Curtin University, ; Perth, Australia
                Int J Equity Health
                Int J Equity Health
                International Journal for Equity in Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                16 October 2017
                16 October 2017
                : 16
                © The Author(s). 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: Western Australian Data Linkage Infrastructure Project funded by Lotterywest
                Award ID: 421003516
                Systematic Review
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2017

                Health & Social care

                australia, breast cancer continuum, socioeconomic status, feedback diagram


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