Development of a framework to identify research gaps from systematic reviews

Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, 1830 East Monument Street, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Journal of clinical epidemiology (Impact Factor: 3.42). 09/2011; 64(12):1325-30. DOI: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2011.06.009
Source: PubMed


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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    • "Nasser et al report on the development and pilot of an equity lens checklist that could help researchers in developing a more equity-oriented approach toward priority setting and agenda setting in systematic reviews. A variant of this priority setting for systematic reviews is to use systematic reviews to identify research needs for primary studies (both randomized controlled trials [RCTs] and observational) [3]. In the latest in articles from the AHRQ program, Saldanha et al developed and pilot tested a process to identify needs for primary clinical research using a systematic review in gestational diabetes mellitus. "
    Journal of clinical epidemiology 05/2013; 66(5):467-8. DOI:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2013.02.008 · 3.42 Impact Factor
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    • "In addition, it has been previously found that reviews tend to be too optimistic when drawing conclusions from their results [67,68]. It has been recommended that research gaps should be identified more systematically, rating the reasons of research gaps in terms of population, intervention, comparison, outcome and setting (PICOS), including insufficient information, biased information, inconsistency or not the right information [69], although this tool has been designed for reviews of intervention studies and may not be suitable for reviews of observational studies. "
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