Writing process

Writing a CAM-summary

The aim of a CAM-summary is to synthesize and summarise the best available evidence that exists about a specific intervention when used in the management or treatment of cancer.  Summaries should all be produced following the methods set out in this document, so that usability and reliability are maximised. 

General guidance for authors

A CAM-summary should have the following qualities:

  • completeness and comprehensiveness
  • topicality
  • unbiased tone
  • user-oriented.

CAM-summaries are not full systematic reviews. The primary audience forCAMsummaries are health care professionals. Summaries should be written with this readership in mind and an independent and non-judgemental tone should be used. CAM-Cancer does not provide any recommendations for treatments or products. 

Searching

The CAM-Cancer Scientific Co-ordinator provides authors with literature searches conducted by an experienced information specialist. The searches are all performed in Medline and the Cochrane Library and are available in bibliographic software. They are fully documented (search terms, databases, interfaces, dates, filters, result log) in order to ensure they are systematic, transparent and reproducible. The search documentation is available upon request from the Scientific Co-ordinator. Full-text articles may be provided by the Scientific Co-ordinator. 

In addition, authors need to perform their own searches for general background information and general safety information. 

CAM summary template and guidelines

All CAM summaries must follow the template and guidelines provided by CAM-Cancer. The editorial team ensures that summaries comply with these. The template for CAM summaries can be accessed here. An overview of the CAM-summary guidelines can be found below, the full writing guidelines are available in the manual, section 4.  

Overview of CAM-summary guidelines

Abstract

Summarise your findings in a way that will enable health care professionals to make unbiased and informed decisions. Although CAM summaries are written for professionals, do consider how the summary will be understood and interpreted by lay persons. 

CAM summaries should summarise existing evidence, but not provide advice or make recommendations.

Structure the abstract as follows and answer each point with one sentence:

  • What is the commonly used name for the CAM modality you are describing (if it is a herbal remedy, please mention the Latin name, as well as any used common name where this is available) and what does the CAM method entail?
  • What are the claimed effects of the therapy? Make sure to state that these claims are made by the provider and should not be taken at face value.
  • What does the research evidence tell us about the CAM modality (i.e. how many trials – if any – of what nature and quality and what are the results)?
  • What is the direction for the conclusion regarding the, effectiveness, efficacy and safety of this CAM modality? 

What is it?

Please limit this section to a maximum of two pages. Please always reference your sources.

Firstly, you must generate an overview of the CAM therapy which you are writing about. In this overview the following issues should be briefly presented using the following headings:

  • Description
  • Scientific names/brand names/common names
  • Ingredients/Components
  • Application and dosage
  • History/providers
  • Claims of efficacy/mechanisms of action/alleged indications
  • Prevalence of use
  • Legal issues
  • Cost(s) and expenditures 

Does it work?

To write this section, you must critically appraise and summarise relevant articles identified through the systematic literature searches. Factors that warrant assessment are those related to internal (study design and conduct) and external validity (applicability and generalisability of results) of individual investigations.  

Please summarise the evidence in a clinically meaningful way. Consider sorting the evidence according to cancer type or outcome measures, if appropriate. Provide evidence from the following study types using them as subheadings:

  • systematic reviews, meta-analyses
  • narrative reviews
  • controlled clinical trials
  • uncontrolled clinical trials – only if no or very few controlled trials are available
  • case series/studies – only if no reviews or controlled trials available 

For each of the above categories, you should very briefly describe the evidence:

  • Type (i.e. systematic review, RCT, pre-clinical trial, case series, individual case reports, guidelines, other)
  • Quality of the evidence/ research findings
  • Internal validity (study design and conduct)
  • External validity (applicability and generalisability of results)
  • Direction of evidence (positive, uncertain, negative) 

Summaries including five or more controlled clinical trials/reviews should present trial/review details in table format rather than describing them in the text. 

Is it safe?

For this paragraph please summarise what you have found with regards to safety/applicability of the CAM modality. Please consider/include the following issues:

  • Adverse reactions/effects
  • Contraindications
  • Interactions with other drugs/therapies
  • Known problems or complications
  • Warnings. 

References

Please provide references to relevant articles to support claims are provided for each summary. The summary should contain a maximum of 40 references.

Publication history

The publication history of all summaries is published detailing publication/revision dates and authors as well as any other relevant information. 

Disclaimer

Each summary contains a disclaimer.