Development of a framework to identify research gaps from systematic reviews
ABSTRACT Our objective was to develop a framework to identify research gaps from systematic reviews.
We reviewed the practices of (1) evidence-based practice centers (EPCs), and (2) other organizations that conduct evidence syntheses. We developed and pilot tested a framework for identifying research gaps.
Four (33%) EPCs and three (8%) other organizations reported using an explicit framework to determine research gaps. Variations of the PICO (population, intervention, comparison, outcomes) framework were most common. We developed a framework incorporating both the characterization of the gap using PICOS elements (also including setting) and the identification of the reason(s) why the gap exists as (1) insufficient or imprecise information, (2) biased information, (3) inconsistency or unknown consistency, and (4) not the right information. We mapped each of these reasons to concepts from three common evidence-grading systems.
Our framework determines from systematic reviews where the current evidence falls short and why or how the evidence falls short. This explicit identification of research gaps will allow systematic reviews to maximally inform the types of questions that need to be addressed and the types of studies needed to address the research gaps.
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ABSTRACT: In Western societies, self-rated health (SRH) inequalities have increased over the past decades. Longitudinal studies suggest that the SRH trajectories of disadvantaged populations are declining at a faster rate than those of advantaged populations, resulting in an accumulation of (dis)advantages over the life course, as postulated by the Cumulative Advantage/Disadvantage (CAD) model. The objectives of this study are to conduct a systematic review of the factors influencing SRH trajectories in the adult population and to assess to what extent the findings support the CAD model. Based on the inclusion criteria, 36 articles, using 15 nationally representative databases, were reviewed. The results show that young age, high socioeconomic position and marital transitions (entering a partnership) are advantageous factors of change in SRH trajectories. However, evidence for cumulative influences supporting the CAD model remains limited: gender, ethnicity, education and employment status are only moderately associated with growing influences over time, and the cumulative influences of income, occupation, age and marital status are weak. In conclusion, this systematic review provides consolidated evidence on the factors influencing SRH trajectories, though the inclusion of only 15 nationally representative databases may limit the generalization of the resultsAdvances in Life Course Research 11/2013; 19. DOI:10.1016/j.alcr.2013.11.002 · 1.35 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Health technology assessment (HTA) is primarily used as a tool to ensure that clinical and policy decisions are made with the benefit of a systematic analysis of all completed research. This article describes the progress and potential for HTA reports to improve the quality and relevance of future research and to better serve the information needs of patients, clinicians, payers, and other decision makers. We conducted a review of the current published literature and working papers describing past, ongoing, and future initiatives that rely on HTA reports to identify gaps in evidence and improve the design of future research. Although still in a developmental stage, significant progress is under way to improve methods for using HTA reports for the systematic identification of research gaps, prioritization of future research, and improvement of study designs. Several well-defined frameworks have been developed to assist those who produce HTA to become more effective in these additional domains of work. A recurring element of this work is the importance of meaningfully involving stakeholders in the process of defining future research needs and designing studies to address them. Patients, clinicians, and payers are important audiences for completed research and are now recognized as serving an important role in determining what future research is needed. There are substantial opportunities to improve the quality, relevance, and efficiency of clinical research. Recent efforts are beginning to demonstrate the potential to build on the work invested in developing HTA reports to provide a roadmap toward these objectives.Journal of Clinical Oncology 10/2012; 30(34). DOI:10.1200/JCO.2012.42.6338 · 17.88 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Introduction Choice of outcomes is critical for clinical trialists and systematic reviewers. It is currently unclear how systematic reviewers choose and pre-specify outcomes for systematic reviews. Our objective was to assess the completeness of pre-specification and comparability of outcomes in all Cochrane reviews addressing four common eye conditions. Methods We examined protocols for all Cochrane reviews as of June 2013 that addressed glaucoma, cataract, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and diabetic retinopathy (DR). We assessed completeness and comparability for each outcome that was named in ≥25% of protocols on those topics. We defined a completely-specified outcome as including information about five elements: domain, specific measurement, specific metric, method of aggregation, and time-points. For each domain, we assessed comparability in how individual elements were specified across protocols. Results We identified 57 protocols addressing glaucoma (22), cataract (16), AMD (15), and DR (4). We assessed completeness and comparability for five outcome domains: quality-of-life, visual acuity, intraocular pressure, disease progression, and contrast sensitivity. Overall, these five outcome domains appeared 145 times (instances). Only 15/145 instances (10.3%) were completely specified (all five elements) (median = three elements per outcome). Primary outcomes were more completely specified than non-primary (median = four versus two elements). Quality-of-life was least completely specified (median = one element). Due to largely incomplete outcome pre-specification, conclusive assessment of comparability in outcome usage across the various protocols per condition was not possible. Discussion Outcome pre-specification was largely incomplete; we encourage systematic reviewers to consider all five elements. This will indicate the importance of complete specification to clinical trialists, on whose work systematic reviewers depend, and will indirectly encourage comparable outcome choice to reviewers undertaking related research questions. Complete pre-specification could improve efficiency and reduce bias in data abstraction and analysis during a systematic review. Ultimately, more completely specified and comparable outcomes could make systematic reviews more useful to decision-makers.PLoS ONE 10/2014; 9(10):e109400. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0109400 · 3.53 Impact Factor