When you have an idea and want to find out whether it is sound, it is a good idea to start by making an inventory of what is already documented in the area. By carrying out a literature search and a review of registers and databases, you can map out the research status.
An idea can result from systematic research, but it can also arise spontaneously as a possible solution to an everyday problem. Within health and medical care, it is often a question of creative solutions to work methodology problems, or of new products that will contribute to the development of healthcare work. Nor is it uncommon for research to be carried out into methods or interventions that are already in use, but lack scientific evidence for their effect, or to investigate whether therapies developed for a specific indication can also be used in other contexts.
By carrying out a literature search and review of scientific publications, registers and databases, you can compare your idea for a new method, therapy or product with previous research carried out, and possibly find similar products on the market. Perhaps there is clinical data that supports your idea, or information on development of similar products? You can learn more about systematic searches of scientific literature from SBU (Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Assessment of Social Services). You can also ask a librarian within your organisation or at your HEI for tips about databases and search strategies. The search words, the limits for the search and the search services you choose are of importance for determining the search results you will achieve.
There are a number of databases you can search to find information about clinical studies in progress or completed. Some of them are:
HTA, Health Technology Assessment, entails a systematic assessment of the knowledge status for a medical method, technology or therapy. The method was first used by the US Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) in the early 1970s for the purpose of producing background information for decisions on introducing new technology. The assessment is made from financial, as well as organisational and ethical perspectives, and is based on a review of the published scientific literature, according to SBU’s principles for study quality. New technology is often compared to existing technology. The purpose of the HTA analysis is to make healthcare more evidence-based.
The assessments are carried out at national level by SBU and the Dental and Pharmaceutical Benefits Agency (TLV) , and at regional level by HTA organisations in Region Örebro, Västra Götaland Region, Stockholm County Council, Sydöstra Healthcare Region and Region Skåne. Topical HTA documents from four Swedish healthcare regions (in Swedish) are compiled at Vårdverktyget.se.
The Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Assessment of Social Services (SBU) carries out independent assessments of methods within health and medical care including dental care. The reports describe the methods and interventions that make the greatest difference, and indicate the best way of using societal resources.
If you want help with understanding where the need for clinical research is the greatest, you can get tips about a large number of insufficiently evaluated methods and interventions in health and medical care and social services, so-called “gaps in scientific knowledge”. SBU has mapped areas where there is a need for more knowledge, based on SBU’s own reports, the national guidelines of the National Board for Health and Welfare and other systematic literature summaries. SBU’s identified gaps in knowledge are published on their website, where you can search among lots of suggestions for research within a vast number of areas.
Public authorities have a large number of registers that have been collected within the framework for each authority’s activities. Several authorities have data from population-based surveys and questionnaires, which have been gathered together for purposes other than research. Of particular interest to clinical studies are health data registers, for example.
Health and medical care in Sweden maintains a quality register, which has been built up within specific areas in order to develop and safeguard care quality systematically and continuously. The registers contain data linked to persons on subjects such as diagnosis, therapy and outcome of therapy. The quality registers can be used for research, for example to identify risk factors for disease and ill health in the population. Register studies can also be used to follow up and evaluate benefits and risks of various medicines and other forms of therapy.
At registerforskning.se, there is information aimed at researchers who want to use register data in their research. It provides support for the work of identifying, ordering and using register data.
The formulation of the problem is the core of every research process, and the clearer the problem and the primary question of the project is formulated, the clearer and more concrete the purpose of the project in question becomes. Once you have formulated a concrete research question, you can also determine the data that need to be collected in order to answer the question.
Your formulation of the research question forms the basis for the research plan that is needed for the application to the Ethical Review Board.
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