James Thomas

James Thomas
University College London | UCL · Department of Childhood, Families and Health

PhD

About

333
Publications
165,144
Reads
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Citations
Introduction
I am Director of the EPPI-Centre's Reviews Facility for the Department of Health, England, which undertakes systematic reviews across a range of policy areas to support the department. I specialise in developing methods for research synthesis, in particular for qualitative and mixed methods reviews and in using emerging information technologies such as text mining and machine learning in research. I lead development on the Centre's in-house reviewing software, EPPI-Reviewer.

Publications

Publications (333)
Article
Background: Reviewing complex interventions is challenging because they include many elements that can interact dynamically in a non-linear manner. A systems perspective offers a way of thinking to help understand complex issues, but its application in evidence synthesis is not established. The aim of this project was to understand how and why sys...
Article
Full-text available
Background Lyme disease incidence is increasing in Europe, the USA, and Canada. In 2010, a comparison of surveillance systems for Lyme disease (LD) in humans in 28 European countries showed that systems highly varied, making epidemiological comparisons difficult. Details by country were not published. In 2018, one of LD clinical manifestations, neu...
Article
Background: Automation is a proposed solution for the increasing difficulty of maintaining up-to-date, high-quality health evidence. Evidence assessing the effectiveness of semiautomated data synthesis, such as risk-of-bias (RoB) assessments, is lacking. Objective: To determine whether RobotReviewer-assisted RoB assessments are noninferior in ac...
Article
Full-text available
Background Seasonal influenza vaccination of healthcare workers (HCW) is widely recommended to protect staff and patients. A previous systematic review examined interventions to encourage uptake finding that hard mandates, such as loss of employment for non-vaccination, were more effective than soft mandates, such as signing a declination form, or...
Article
Full-text available
Background This overview and analysis of UK datasets was commissioned by the UK government to address concerns about children’s consumption of caffeinated energy drinks and their effects on health and behaviour. Methods We searched nine databases for systematic reviews, published between 2013 and July 2021, in English, assessing caffeinated energy...
Article
Full-text available
Background This study developed, calibrated and evaluated a machine learning (ML) classifier designed to reduce study identification workload in maintaining the Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register (CCSR), a continuously updated register of COVID-19 research studies. Methods A ML classifier for retrieving COVID-19 research studies (the ‘Cochrane COVID...
Article
Fund and use ‘living’ reviews of the latest data to steer research, practice and policy. Fund and use ‘living’ reviews of the latest data to steer research, practice and policy.
Article
Uvod: Preporučene smjernice za izvještavanje u sustavnim pregledima i metaanalizama (engl. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses, PRISMA) prvi su put objavljene 2009. godine kako bi autorima sustavnih pregleda omogućile transparentno izvještavanje o predmetu istraživanja, korištenim metodama i dobivenim rezultatima. Tij...
Article
Full-text available
Manual screening of citation records could be reduced by using machine classifiers to remove records of very low relevance. This seems particularly feasible for update searches, where a machine classifier can be trained from past screening decisions. However, feasibility is unclear for broad topics. To evaluate the performance and implementation of...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Conventionally, searching for eligible articles to include in systematic reviews and maps of research has relied primarily on information specialists conducting Boolean searches of multiple databases and manually processing the results, including deduplication between these multiple sources. Searching one, comprehensive source, rather t...
Article
Background: Schools in the UK increasingly have to respond to anxiety, depression and conduct disorder as key causes of morbidity in children and young people. // Objective: The objective was to assess the comparative effectiveness of educational setting-based interventions for the prevention of anxiety, depression and conduct disorder in children...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: This study developed, calibrated, and evaluated a machine learning (ML) classifier designed to reduce study identification workload inmaintainingthe Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register (CCSR), a continuously updated register of COVID-19 research studies. Methods: A ML classifier for retrieving COVID-19 research studies (the “Cochrane COVID...
Article
Cochrane has used crowdsourcing effectively to identify health evidence since 2014. To date, over 175,000 trialshave been identified for Cochrane’s Central Register of Controlled Trials via Cochrane Crowd (https://crowd.cochrane.org), Cochrane’s citizen science platform, engaging a Crowd of over 20,000 people from 166 countries. The COVID-19 pandem...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life worldwide and presented unique challenges in the health evidencesynthesis space. The urgent nature of the pandemic required extreme rapidity for keeping track of research, andthis presented a unique opportunity for long-proposed automation systems to be deployed and evaluated. Wecompared the use of novel aut...
Article
Full-text available
Background: The reliable and usable (semi)automation of data extraction can support the field of systematic review by reducing the workload required to gather information about the conduct and results of the included studies. This living systematic review examines published approaches for data extraction from reports of clinical studies. Methods: W...
Article
Full-text available
Background Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) is a method for identifying the configurations of conditions that lead to specific outcomes. Given its potential for providing evidence of causality in complex systems, QCA is increasingly used in evaluative research to examine the uptake or impacts of public health interventions. We map this emergi...
Article
Full-text available
National immunization technical advisory groups (NITAGs) develop immunization-related recommendations. Systematic reviews are recommended to be used in this process, but conducting them requires significant resources, which many NITAGs lack. Using existing systematic reviews could help address this problem. The Robert Koch Institute and collaborato...
Article
Background : During the COVID-19 pandemic ‘social distancing’ has highlighted the need to minimise loneliness and isolation among older adults (aged 50+). We wanted to know what remotely delivered befriending, social support and low intensity psychosocial interventions may help to alleviate social isolation and loneliness and how they work. Methods...
Article
Full-text available
The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement, published in 2009, was designed to help systematic reviewers transparently report why the review was done, what the authors did, and what they found. Over the past decade, advances in systematic review methodology and terminology have necessitated an update t...
Article
Full-text available
The methods and results of systematic reviews should be reported in sufficient detail to allow users to assess the trustworthiness and applicability of the review findings. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement was developed to facilitate transparent and complete reporting of systematic reviews an...
Article
Full-text available
The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement, published in 2009, was designed to help systematic reviewers transparently report why the review was done, what the authors did, and what they found. Over the past decade, advances in systematic review methodology and terminology have necessitated an update t...
Article
Full-text available
We report a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies which assessed the antinociceptive efficacy of cannabinoids, cannabis-based medicines, and endocannabinoid system modulators on pain-associated behavioural outcomes in animal models of pathological or injury-related persistent pain. In April 2019, we systematically searched 3 online databas...
Article
The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement, published in 2009, was designed to help systematic reviewers transparently report why the review was done, what the authors did, and what they found. Over the past decade, advances in systematic review methodology and terminology have necessitated an update t...
Article
Full-text available
The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement, published in 2009, was designed to help systematic reviewers transparently report why the review was done, what the authors did, and what they found. Over the past decade, advances in systematic review methodology and terminology have necessitated an update t...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Seasonal influenza vaccination of healthcare workers (HCW) is widely recommended to protect staff and patients. A previous systematic review examined interventions to encourage uptake finding that hard mandates, such as loss of employment for non-vaccination, were more effective than soft mandates, such as signing a declination form, or...
Article
Introduction: Systematic reviews involve synthesis of research to inform decision making by clinicians, consumers, policy makers and researchers. While guidance for synthesis often focuses on meta-analysis, synthesis begins with specifying the ’PICO for each synthesis’ (i.e. the criteria for deciding which populations, interventions, comparators an...
Article
Full-text available
Background Filtering the deluge of new research to facilitate evidence synthesis has proven to be unmanageable using current paradigms of search and retrieval. Crowdsourcing, a way of harnessing the collective effort of a ‘crowd’ of people, has the potential to support evidence synthesis by addressing this information overload created by the expone...
Article
Full-text available
Background The increasingly rapid rate of evidence publication has made it difficult for evidence synthesis—systematic reviews and health guidelines—to be continually kept up to date. One proposed solution for this is the use of automation in health evidence synthesis. Guideline developers are key gatekeepers in the acceptance and use of evidence,...
Article
Background: Behaviour change interventions (BCI), their contexts and evaluation methods are heterogeneous, making it difficult to synthesise evidence and make recommendations for real-world policy and practice. Ontologies provide a means for addressing this. They represent knowledge formally as entities and relationships using a common language abl...
Article
Background: Behaviour change interventions (BCI), their contexts and evaluation methods are heterogeneous, making it difficult to synthesise evidence and make recommendations for real-world policy and practice. Ontologies provide a means for addressing this. They represent knowledge formally as entities and relationships using a common language abl...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Ideally, health conditions causing the greatest global disease burden should attract increased research attention. We conducted a comprehensive global study investigating the number of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) published on different health conditions, and how this compares with the global disease burden that they impose. Me...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Generalisability is typically only briefly mentioned in discussion sections of evaluation articles, which are unhelpful in judging whether an intervention could be implemented elsewhere, with similar effects. Several tools to assess generalisability exist, but they are difficult to operationalise and are rarely used. We believe a different...
Article
Full-text available
Background : During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, millions of older adults are advised to avoid contact with those outside their household. ‘Social distancing’ has highlighted the need to minimise loneliness and isolation through the provision of remotely delivered befriending, social support and low intensity psychosocial interventions. We wanted to...
Chapter
Biomedical text tagging systems are plagued by the dearth of labeled training data. There have been recent attempts at using pre-trained encoders to deal with this issue. Pre-trained encoder provides representation of the input text which is then fed to task-specific layers for classification. The entire network is fine-tuned on the labeled data fr...
Preprint
Full-text available
Introduction Ideally, health conditions causing the greatest global disease burden should attract increased research attention. We conducted a comprehensive global study investigating the number of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) published on different health conditions, and how this compares with the global disease burden that they impose. Me...
Article
Importance: The degree to which children and adolescents are infected by and transmit severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is unclear. The role of children and adolescents in transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is dependent on susceptibility, symptoms, viral load, social contact patterns, and behavior. Objective: To systematically...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are the gold standard method for evaluating whether a treatment works in health care but can be difficult to find and make use of. We describe the development and evaluation of a system to automatically find and categorize all new RCT reports. Materials and methods: Trialstreamer continuously monito...
Preprint
Background: The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) Statement, published in 2009, was designed to help systematic reviewers transparently report why the review was done, what the authors did and what they found. Over the last decade, there have been many advances in systematic review methodology and terminolo...
Preprint
The methods and results of systematic reviews should be reported in sufficient detail to allow users to assess the trustworthiness and applicability of the review findings. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement was developed to facilitate transparent and complete reporting of systematic reviews an...
Article
Introduction : Systematic reviews are used to synthesise research and inform decision making by clinicians, consumers and policy makers. The synthesis component of systematic reviews is often narrowly considered as the use of statistical methods to combine the results of studies, primarily meta-analysis. However, synthesis can be considered more br...
Article
Full-text available
Conducting mixed methods reviews is challenging. The aim of this paper is to describe a range of rationales for and approaches to mixed methods reviews, with a particular focus on one research group. A case study was conducted to describe the mixed methods review process used at the Department of Health and Social Care Reviews Facility in England....
Article
Full-text available
Background: Behaviour change interventions (BCI), their contexts and evaluation methods are heterogeneous, making it difficult to synthesise evidence and make recommendations for real-world policy and practice. Ontologies provide a means for addressing this. They represent knowledge formally as entities and relationships using a common language abl...
Article
Changing behaviour is necessary to address many of the threats facing human populations. However, identifying behaviour change interventions likely to be effective in particular contexts as a basis for improving them presents a major challenge. The Human Behaviour-Change Project harnesses the power of artificial intelligence and behavioural science...
Article
Changing behaviour is necessary to address many of the threats facing human populations. However, identifying behaviour change interventions likely to be effective in particular contexts as a basis for improving them presents a major challenge. The Human Behaviour-Change Project harnesses the power of artificial intelligence and behavioural science...
Article
BACKGROUND: Behaviour change interventions (BCI), their contexts and evaluation methods are heterogeneous, making it difficult to synthesise evidence and make recommendations for real-world policy and practice. Ontologies provide a means for addressing this. They represent knowledge formally as entities and relationships using a common language abl...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Researchers in evidence-based medicine cannot keep up with the amounts of both old and newly published primary research articles. Support for the early stages of the systematic review process – searching and screening studies for eligibility – is necessary because it is currently impossible to search for relevant research with precision...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives: Modelling the health and care trajectories of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) is essential to identify inequalities and support needs, yet because of the small sample of LGB people in any one survey, current evidence relies on studies that have poor generalisability and low power. This study assesses the magnitude of health inequalitie...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background The degree to which children and young people are infected by and transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus is unclear. Clinical series and testing cohorts based upon screening of symptomatic cases provide biased estimates of susceptibility in children. The role of children and young people in transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is dependent on susceptibilit...
Preprint
Full-text available
Objective Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are the gold standard method for evaluating whether a treatment works in healthcare, but can be difficult to find and make use of. We describe the development and evaluation of a system to automatically find and categorize all new RCT reports. Materials and Methods Trialstreamer, continuously monitors P...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) such as abuse, neglect or household adversity may have a range of serious negative impacts. There is a need to understand what interventions are effective to improve outcomes for people who have experienced ACEs. Methods: Systematic review of systematic reviews. We searched 18 database sources fro...
Article
Full-text available
Background: School closures have been a recommended non-pharmaceutical intervention in pandemic response owing to the potential to reduce transmission of infection between children, school staff and those that they contact. However, given the many roles that schools play in society, closure for any extended period is likely to have additional impac...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background The increasingly rapid rate of evidence publication has made it difficult for evidence synthesis – systematic reviews and health guidelines -- to be continually kept up-to-date maintain the most up-to-date data. One proposed solution for this is the use of automation in health evidence synthesis. Guideline developers are key gatekeepers...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: The increasingly rapid rate of evidence publication has made it difficult for evidence synthesis – systematic reviews and health guidelines -- to be continually kept up to date. One proposed solution for this is the use of automation in health evidence synthesis. Guideline developers are key gatekeepers in the acceptance and use of evid...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Researchers in evidence-based medicine cannot keep up with the amounts of both old and newly published primary research articles. Conducting and updating of systematic reviews is time-consuming. In practice, data extraction is one of the most complex tasks in this process. Exponential improvements in computational processing speed and d...
Article
Background: Framework synthesis is increasingly used in systematic reviews of health care practice and policy. We demonstrate how framework synthesis methods have been utilised and how they are situated within research synthesis methods. Methods: An overview and update was conducted of reports which applied, illustrated or discussed framework sy...
Article
Full-text available
Cyberbullying is associated with considerable negative mental and psychosocial consequences in children and young people, making it a serious public health concern. To review the highest level of available evidence, a systematic mapping review was conducted to identify systematic reviews that investigated the relationship between cyberbullying and...
Article
Full-text available
In systematic reviews that lack data amenable to meta-analysis, alternative synthesis methods are commonly used, but these methods are rarely reported. This lack of transparency in the methods can cast doubt on the validity of the review findings. The Synthesis Without Meta-analysis (SWiM) guideline has been developed to guide clear reporting in re...
Article
Full-text available
Background: There is an increasing recognition that health intervention research requires methods and approaches that can engage with the complexity of systems, interventions, and the relations between systems and interventions. One approach which shows promise to this end is qualitative comparative analysis (QCA), which examines casual complexity...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Rates of anxiety and depression are increasing among children and young people. Recent policies have focused on primary prevention of mental disorders in children and young people, with schools at the forefront of implementation. There is limited information for the comparative effectiveness of the multiple interventions available. Me...
Article
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) include physical, sexual or emotional abuse; neglect; domestic violence in the home; homelessness or living in care; parental mental health problems or substance abuse; and parents who are absent through imprisonment, separation or death. We sought to understand how people affected by ACEs can best be supported...
Preprint
Full-text available
Biomedical text tagging systems are plagued by the dearth of labeled training data. There have been recent attempts at using pre-trained encoders to deal with this issue. Pre-trained encoder provides representation of the input text which is then fed to task-specific layers for classification. The entire network is fine-tuned on the labeled data fr...
Preprint
Biomedical text tagging systems are plagued by the dearth of labeled training data. There have been recent attempts at using pre-trained encoders to deal with this issue. Pre-trained encoder provides representation of the input text which is then fed to task-specific layers for classification. The entire network is fine-tuned on the labeled data fr...
Chapter
This chapter describes the processes by which the structure of the synthesis can be mapped out at the beginning of the systematic review, and the interplay between the review question, considerations for the analysis and their operationalization in terms of eligibility criteria. Decisions about which studies to include (and exclude), and how they w...
Article
Full-text available
The hostile environment that older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people faced at younger ages in the United Kingdom (UK) may have a lasting negative impact on their health. This systematic scoping review adds to the current knowledge base through comprehensively synthesising evidence on what is known about the extent and nature of h...
Chapter
This chapter outlines some general issues in searching for studies; describes the main sources of potential studies; and discusses how to plan the search process, design and carry out search strategies, manage references found during the search process, correctly document the search process and select studies from the search results. It provides ad...