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Finding Evidence on Ongoing Studies

Research Report

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This report is from AHRQ's Future Research Needs – Methods Research Series.


Comparative effectiveness reviews synthesize evidence to inform questions about healthcare topics, but the evidence is not always sufficient to completely answer those questions. Therefore systematic reviews and specifically Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) reports may identify research gaps and make recommendations for future research to address these unanswered questions. One useful adjunct to these recommendations is an analysis of the research that is currently in the pipeline. This additional information can be used to prioritize the research gaps in the report. Identified research gaps on topics for which several large studies are underway can be described as a lower priority future research need. Identified research gaps on topics with few studies underway may rise as priorities for future research. Prioritizing the research gaps this way can also guide funding agencies in decisions about which topics may need additional research funding. The information provided about ongoing studies can provide indications about when to update reviews.

This project assessed this potential adjunct of reviewing ongoing studies when addressing future research needs through two aims. First sources of information that can be used to identify ongoing studies relevant to the research gaps were analyzed. Second, we evaluated the value that could be added by utilizing these sources in refining the research recommendation section of an EPC report. The second aim was to determine if there are characteristics of ongoing studies that can be used to predict which studies will be completed as planned and published in a timely manner.