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Synthesising evidence on patient portals: a protocol for an umbrella review
  1. Olga Petrovskaya1,
  2. Francis Lau2,
  3. Marcy Antonio2,3
  1. 1 Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  2. 2 School of Health Information Science, Faculty of Human and Social Development, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada
  3. 3 School of Nursing, Faculty of Human and Social Development, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Olga Petrovskaya; olga.petrovskaya{at}


Introduction Over the last two decades, patient portals have emerged as a noticeable eHealth strategy. To date, research on patient portals has been rapidly increasing. Our umbrella review aims to provide a meta-level synthesis to make sense of the evidence on patient portals from published systematic reviews (SRs).

Methods We will employ a modified version of the Joanna Briggs Institute umbrella review method. The search strategy encompasses multiple databases. The inclusion criterion is specific to SRs focused on patient portal. Patients or public were not involved in this work.

Analysis Two researchers will independently screen titles/abstracts and then full-text articles against the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Methodological quality of included reviews will be assessed and data will be extracted from the final selection of reviews. These reviews will be categorised into quantitative, qualitative and/or mixed-synthesis groups based on information about the design of primary studies provided in the reviews. Correspondingly, we will create quantitative, qualitative and/or mixed-synthesis Excel data-extraction tables. Within each table, data will be extracted with the reference to primary studies as reported in the reviews, and will be synthesised into themes and then a smaller number of findings/outcomes. Modified Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) and Confidence in the Evidence from Reviews of Qualitative research (CERQual) tools will be applied to assess the strength of evidence at the level of each finding/outcome. The output of our umbrella review will consist of summary of findings tables and evidence profile tables. A narrative meta-level synthesis will be provided. We will use the clinical adoption meta-model as an organising framework.

Ethics and dissemination As an outcome of this review, we will create a guidance and roadmap to be used in a future Delphi study to gather feedback from Canadian eHealth stakeholders. We will also present at conferences and publish the final report. The umbrella review does not require ethical approval.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42018096657.

  • patient portal
  • tethered personal health record (phr)
  • umbrella review
  • systematic review of reviews
  • review evidence

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  • Contributors MA and FL developed the intellectual idea for the review. FL led the development of the major aspects of study design, methods and analysis. MA and OP provided suggestions on study methods. OP and MA developed approaches to dealing with qualitative and mixed-synthesis aspects. OP collaborated with a librarian to develop the search strategy and procured a Covidence© seat. OP and FL drafted the protocol and its various components. MA contributed to the intellectual development of the protocol, commenting on drafts. FL, MA and OP all helped to resolve disagreement and reach consensus. OP revised the protocol with inputs from FL and MA.

  • Funding Dr. Petrovskaya has received Research Establishment Grant from the Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta (grant number is not applicable). Dr. Lau and Ms. Antonio have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The umbrella review does not require approval of ethics boards.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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