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Using a bibliometric approach for a clinical question that generates a large volume of literature

Date and Location




Monday 23 September 2013 - 10:30 - 12:00


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Stephanie Shaw

Contact person

Stephanie Shaw
Abstract text
Background: Systematic reviews synthesize the highest quality evidence available pertaining to a given topic. Bibliometric reviews, on the other hand, seek to quantify aspects of the literature, without taking quality into account. Objectives: For this study, we ran a literature search with the intention of conducting a systematic review, the purpose of which was to assess the association between chronic oropharyngeal dysphagia and fibrosis in patients treated with radiotherapy for head and neck cancer. Because of the large volume of literature captured, we took a bibliometric approach to delineate common themes in the literature and to identify major knowledge gaps. Methods: Nine electronic databases were searched to find primary research articles published between 1980 and June 2011. Abstracts that met the selection criteria underwent full article review, during which the following data were extracted: first author, year of publication, university/ research facility, country, journal name, and the presence or absence of specific dysphagia-related toxicities reported acutely (< 3 months post-radiation) and chronically (≥ 3 months post-radiation). Results: 7,646 unique citations were retrieved. 5,791 were rejected based on review of the citation/abstract. Of the remaining 1,855 articles, 72 have to date been reviewed in full. 28 did not meet inclusion criteria and have been excluded. Data were collected from the remaining 44 studies. Using this data as a starting point, several trends and potential knowledge gaps have been identified. For example, the volume of literature has increased exponentially over time. However, very few articles report on toxicities considered to be “consequences of dysphagia,” such as pneumonia, malnutrition, or dehydration. Conclusions: Using a bibliometric approach to review a large volume of clinical literature can be beneficial to map common trends and identify areas where further research is needed.