Frameworks for Determining Research Gaps During Systematic Reviews
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality AHRQ -
Contract No. 290-2007-10061- Prepared by:
The Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center Baltimore, MD
Available online PDF [95p.] at: http://bit.ly/n2PXFj
Systematic reviews, in addition to summarizing the evidence, generally also discuss needs for future research. However, in contrast to the methods of the systematic review, future needs are not identified systematically. There is limited literature describing organizing principles or frameworks for determining research gaps. We developed and pilot-tested a framework for the identification of research gaps from systematic reviews.
We reviewed the research gaps identification practices of organizations involved with evidence synthesis.
(i) evidence-based practice centers (EPCs) (n=12) associated with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in the
(ii) other organizations around the world (n=64) that conduct systematic reviews, cost-effectiveness analyses, or technology assessments.
Based on the responses, we developed a framework for identifying research gaps. We obtained feedback from two technical experts at our institution and pilot-tested this framework on two randomly selected EPC evidence reports. We also developed a simple, user-friendly worksheet with instructions to facilitate the use of the framework by investigators during or after a systematic review.
Four (33.3%) EPCs and 3 (8.1%) of the other organizations reported currently using an explicit framework to determine research gaps. We did not identify one framework that captured all elements needed to determine and characterize research gaps. Variations of the PICO (population, intervention, comparison, outcomes) framework were most common. It is also important to classify the reason(s) for the gap to help determine how to address the gap.
Therefore, we propose a framework that includes both the characterization of the gap using PICOS elements (also including setting) and the identification of the reason(s) why the gap exists.
The framework allows investigators to classify reasons for the existence of a research gap as:
(a) insufficient or imprecise information,
(b) biased information;
(c) inconsistency or unknown consistency, and
(d) not the right information.
We mapped each of these reasons to concepts from three commonly used evidence grading systems: the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE); the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF); and the Strength of Evidence (SOE) used by EPCs.
This allows leveraging of work already being completed during evidence grading. During pilot-testing, we identified challenges including difficulty in applying the framework for completed systematic reviews and differences in the specificity of research gaps abstracted by different users.
These could be tackled with a priori discussions amongst investigators. Further testing should determine if these challenges are ameliorated if the framework is used during a systematic review.
We developed a framework to identify and characterize research gaps from systematic reviews. The framework provides for the classification of where and why the current evidence falls short.
* * *
This message from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO/WHO, is part of an effort to disseminate
information Related to: Equity; Health inequality; Socioeconomic inequality in health; Socioeconomic
health differentials; Gender; Violence; Poverty; Health Economics; Health Legislation; Ethnicity; Ethics;
Information Technology - Virtual libraries; Research & Science issues. [DD/ KMC Area]
“Materials provided in this electronic list are provided "as is". Unless expressly stated otherwise, the findings
and interpretations included in the Materials are those of the authors and not necessarily of The Pan American
Health Organization PAHO/WHO or its country members”.
Equity List - Archives - Join/remove: http://listserv.paho.org/Archives/equidad.html
IMPORTANT: This transmission is for use by the intended
recipient and it may contain privileged, proprietary or
confidential information. If you are not the intended
recipient or a person responsible for delivering this
transmission to the intended recipient, you may not
disclose, copy or distribute this transmission or take
any action in reliance on it. If you received this transmission
in error, please dispose of and delete this transmission.