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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    • "We integrate the definitions by Robinson et al. (2011) and Jacobs (2011) for our paper. While the definition by Robinson et al. (2011) focuses on research gaps as a result of the process of reviewing literature, Jacobs (2011) emphasizes the formation of research problems and how these problems might be resolved. Hence, a research gap arises when there is a gap in sets of information that is derived from a literature synthesis and requires further research to be resolved. "
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    ABSTRACT: Identifying research gaps is a fundamental goal of literature reviewing. While it is widely acknowledged that literature reviews should identify research gaps, there are no methodological guidelines for how to identify research gaps in qualitative literature reviews ensuring rigor and replicability. Our study addresses this gap and proposes a framework that should help scholars in this endeavor without stifling creativity. To develop the framework we thoroughly analyze the state-of-the-art procedure of identifying research gaps in 40 recent literature reviews using a grounded theory approach. Based on the data, we subsequently derive a framework for identifying research gaps in qualitative literature reviews and demonstrate its application with an example. Our results provide a modus operandi for identifying research gaps, thus enabling scholars to conduct literature reviews more rigorously, effectively, and efficiently in the future.
    Full-text · Conference Paper · Dec 2015
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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. "

    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Journal of clinical epidemiology
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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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    ABSTRACT: Behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPS) include depressive symptoms, anxiety, apathy, sleep problems, irritability, psychosis, wandering, elation and agitation, and are common in the non-demented and demented population. We have undertaken a systematic review of reviews to give a broad overview of the prevalence, course, biological and psychosocial associations, care and outcomes of BPS in the older or demented population, and highlight limitations and gaps in existing research. Embase and Medline were searched for systematic reviews using search terms for BPS, dementia and ageing. Thirty-six reviews were identified. Most investigated the prevalence or course of symptoms, while few reviewed the effects of BPS on outcomes and care. BPS were found to occur in non-demented, cognitively impaired and demented people, but reported estimates vary widely. Biological factors associated with BPS in dementia include genetic factors, homocysteine levels and vascular changes. Psychosocial factors increase risk of BPS; however, across studies and between symptoms findings are inconsistent. BPS have been associated with burden of care, caregiver's general health and caregiver depression scores, but findings are limited regarding institutionalisation, quality of life and disease outcome. Limitations of reviews include a lack of high quality reviews, particularly of BPS other than depression. Limitations of original studies include heterogeneity in study design particularly related to measurement of BPS, level of cognitive impairment, population characteristics and participant recruitment. It is our recommendation that more high quality reviews, including all BPS, and longitudinal studies with larger sample sizes that use frequently cited instruments to measure BPS are undertaken. A better understanding of the risk factors and course of BPS will inform prevention, treatment and management and possibly improve quality of life for the patients and their carers.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · Alzheimer's Research and Therapy
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