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Avoiding research waste: addressing unit of analysis errors in trials and systematic reviews in Eyes and Vision - Clinicians and patients need access to up-to-date high quality research to make evidence-informed decisions about health care. Systematic reviews are a rigorous approach to identifying, appraising and synthesising the results of individual studies. Systematic review authors cannot always use all the data available in individual studies because of the way that studies are reported, including unit of analysis issues, leading to avoidable research waste. The aim of this proposal is to explore the nature and extent of unit of analysis errors in trials and systematic reviews in Eyes and Vision, investigate the impact on the results of systematic reviews and develop solutions and guidance for trialists and systematic review authors. This will be an important contribution to the quality of evidence in this field. Despite the fact that unit of analysis issues are widely acknowledged, an assessment of how common these concerns are in Eyes and Vision systematic reviews is lacking and few studies have been conducted in general. Thus, investigating the extent and the impact of errors concerning UAIs in trials and reviews is important to quantify the impact of this type of bias and minimise research waste.


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Personal profile


Gianni Virgili has been associate professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Florence since 2005, Director of the Ophthalmology Residency Programme, director of the  clinical unit SOD Ottica Fisiopatologica and Coordinator of the regional Center for Vision Education and Rehabilitation at the Careggi Hospital in Florence, Italy. He has worked as medical retina specialist since 1992.

He achieved a Master’s degree in Epidemiology at the University of Turin, Italy, in 2005 and has received extensive training in biostatistics and research methods, particularly in systematic reviews and meta-analyses. In support of the Hospital Medical Management he could also develop health management skills and knowledge of performance indicators and administrative hospital data across all medical specialties. He is collaborating with the Regional Health Agency in pharmacoepidemiology studies in Tuscany.

He has collaborated particularly with Cochrane, in which he has the following editorial roles: Editor of the Cochrane Eyes and Vision (2006); Co-coordinating Editor of the  Diagnostic Test Accuracy Satellite Cochrane Eyes and Vision (2011); Editor of the Cochrane Diagnostic Test Accuracy Working Group (2011).

He is an Editorial Board member of the journal Internal and Emergency Medicine (HTA and Clinical Evidence section, 2010), an Academic Editor of the journal PLOS ONE (2015) and an Executive Editor of the American Journal of Ophthalmology (2016).

He is involved in an international collaborative project with the US Satellite of Cochrane Eyes and Vision (Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health), with the aim of  supporting Associate Editors in ophthalmology and optometry journals that are dedicated to improving the quality of published evidence synthesis  (grant from the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health).

He is a member of the Technical Working Group for the WHO Package of Refractive Error Interventions and the WHO Package of Rehabilitation Interventions for Vision rehabilitation. In this project, as a senior member of Cochrane Eyes and Vision, Gianni Virgili will provide technical support to the project regarding retrieving, using or preparing systematic reviews and clinical guidelines.

Research Focus

His main areas of interest include primary research on the diagnosis and treatment of medical retina disorders, visual function and low vision rehabilitation.  Gianni is an expert in conducting systematic reviews of interventions and diagnostic test accuracy studies in eyes and vision as well as in other medical specialties. This methodological skill has enable him to provide editorial, methodological, and statistical support in other research fields, including neurology, immunology, allergology, radiology, laboratory medicine, anesthesiology and orthopedics. He has also published reports and studies using registry-based and administrative electronic data, particularly working with EUROCARE and RARECARE cancer registries network and the Regional Health Agency in Tuscany.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Devlopment Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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