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In this blog interview Dr Geoff Wong shares with us which systematic review that he’s led or been involved in he would choose to take with him to read, if he was stranded on a desert island.

A desert island with white sand, turquoise water and blue sky, with palm trees, with a photo of  a young doctor and young patient overlaid

Can you introduce yourself and share your role in the MSc EBHC (Systematic Reviews) program?

Welcome fellow travellers, shipwrecked on Systematic Reviews Island. I’m Geoff Wong, a GP and Associate Professor of Primary Care and one of the Island’s residents. I live over by Realist Reviews towers and have been working on it for over a decade.

If you were stranded on a "Desert Island", which systematic review that you have led or been involved in might you take with you to read?

Papoutsi C, Mattick K, Pearson M, Brennan N, Briscoe S & Wong G. Interventions to improve antimicrobial prescribing of doctors in training (IMPACT): a realist review. Health Serv Deliv Res 2018;6(10)

What type of review was it?

A realist review (also sometimes called realist synthesis)

Why did you choose this review?

I have a great fondness for this review as it was the first grant I ever got as Principle Investigator to do a realist review. I have many memories of it – some fond, some I would rather forget. But putting the grant together and running it taught me a great deal. I also made some life-long friends with whom I still collaborate on projects today.

What did your review show?

There are a lot of interventions that have tried to improve antimicrobial prescribing of doctors in training, but oddly they mainly focused on ‘educating’ them. But we found that education was not the main problem, doctors in training often knew what they should be prescribing, but other issues influenced their prescribing decisions – most notably the hierarchical structure of medicine. Putting this most simply, many prescribed what their ‘boss’ (usually their Consultant) wanted them to.

What did you particularly enjoy about the review?

The project team I worked with. We got on well, were willing to listen and challenge each other, and so efficiently delivered the goods – who could ask for anything more!

Reflecting on your review, what one learning would you offer individuals completing a systematic review for the first time?

Build a team of people you can work well with. In realist reviews, the team you work with really matters as they can support you throughout the messiness of the review process and also because they can act as a sounding board during data analysis.

Finally, If you were stranded on a "Desert Island" and about to read your review, what one food or drink treat would you bring with you?

Anything that would keep me awake, as it is a rather long document 😊

You can learn more about the MSc EBHC (Systematic Reviews) programme through the dedicated webpage or by contacting

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CEBM as a group.