Cochrane systematic reviews are useful to map research gaps for decreasing maternal mortality

J Clin Epidemiol. 2013 Jan;66(1):105-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2012.09.005.


Objectives: To use an "evidence-mapping" approach to assess the usefulness of Cochrane reviews in identifying research gaps in the maternal health.

Study design and setting: The article describes the general mapping, prioritizing, reconciling, and updating approach: (1) identifying gaps in the maternal health research using published systematic reviews and formulating research questions, (2) prioritizing questions using Delphi method, (3) reconciling identified research priorities with the existing literature (i.e., searching of ongoing trials in trials registries), (4) updating the process. A comprehensive search of Cochrane systematic reviews published or updated from January 2006 to March 2011 was performed. We evaluated the "Implications for Research" section to identify gaps in the research.

Results: Our search strategy identified 695 references; 178 systematic reviews identifying at least one research gap were used. We formulated 319 research questions, which were classified into 11 different categories based on the direct and indirect causes of maternal mortality: postpartum hemorrhage, abortion, hypertensive disorders, infection/sepsis, caesarean section, diabetes, pregnancy prevention, preterm labor, other direct causes, indirect causes, and health policies and systems. Most research questions concerned the effectiveness of clinical interventions, including drugs (42.6%), nonpharmacologic interventions (16.3%), and health system (14.7%).

Conclusion: It is possible to identify gaps in the maternal health research by using this approach.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Mortality*
  • Maternal Welfare
  • Pregnancy
  • Review Literature as Topic*