Research prioritisation is really important – it ensures the research that’s undertaken (be it primary research or evidence reviewing) answers important topics that have – as yet – not been answered.

So, how might Trip help?

We’ve been involved in some research which should be published shortly that explored transforming the search patterns of Trip into clinical questions.  For example, if a search was for acne and minocyline we can infer the clinical question was ‘Is minocycline useful in the management of acne?‘.  Our work focused on a small clinical area and was able to isolate and chart the distribution of searches/questions in a chart – with the condition on one axis and intervention on the other. Interestingly, the majority of questions occurred in a small number of areas.  Using a ficitious example here is how a chart might look:

So, in the above you can see that for condition A there have been eight searches relating to intervention 6 and one search for condition A and intervention 3.

Now, using the automated PICO annotation system we have labelled all the RCTs and systematic reviews (SR) and these can be charted in a similar way:

In the above for condition A and intervention 1 there are five RCTs and zero SRs and for condition A and intervention 6 there are three RCTs and one SRs.

So, how does that help us?

Example one: We can say that there is a lot of interest in condition D and intervention 1 and we can see that it is well served with RCTs (18) and SRs (4).  We could go further and report on how up to date the SRs are and if there are many new RCTs that might not be included in the SRs.  We could even see if users are clicking on the individual RCTs and SRs to see if they are meeting the needs of the user.  In other words, of those 18+4 studies users may click on some and not others and this can give us a further clue as to the users intentions and therefore improve potential procurement of new research.

Example two: Condition B and intervention 9 is popular. We can see there are 4 RCTs but no SRs. Surely a candidate for an SR?

Example three: Condition B and intervention 4 is popular but there are no RCTs and SRs which indicates a potential area for research procurement. This could be verified by exploring what articles the user clicked on when doing that search – again useful insight.

Sounds plausible to me but I’d welcome some insight from others!