Prioritize Areas for Research

The Community Guide provides a research agenda for each intervention approach it reviews to point out where more, or better, studies are needed to fill evidence gaps and address questions about effectiveness, applicability and harms. These agendas can help scientists plan and conduct research, as well as secure funding.

Using Insufficient Evidence Findings

A number of Community Guide systematic reviews result in insufficient evidence findings. This finding does not mean that the intervention does not work; rather it means one of two things:

  • Too few studies of fair to good quality exist to draw conclusions.
  • A sufficient number of studies are found but their results are inconsistent.

If too few studies exist, this may be a reason for conducting additional research. Researchers should consider whether this is simply due to a lack of studies or due to a lack of studies with rigorous methods. If there is a lack of studies with rigorous methods, the evidence gaps section may offer insight into how to design future studies.

If studies exist, but the findings are inconsistent, researchers should consider these questions:

  • Do trends exist in the favorable or unfavorable studies that can be explained by things such as:
    • Sample characteristic (e.g., race, ethnicity, age)?
    • Participation and exposure rates?
    • Historical events (e.g., national crisis or presence of a national media campaign)?
    • Methodological flaws (e.g., a larger number of before-after studies)?
  • Was the intervention applied in a similar enough fashion across all studies to expect consistency?
  • Was the intervention applied correctly in all studies?

Examining the studies included in a review will help researchers consider next steps.

Improving Research Quality

Following are specific ways to improve the quality of intervention research:

  • Set priorities for topics to review
  • Improve the quality of studies
  • Identify theoretical bases via conceptual models
  • Identify outcome measures

The Community Guide relies on researchers to conduct studies that can move prevention research forward. It can help you determine which topics need more research and which have been sufficiently studied, so that you can successfully fund your projects and publish findings.

Available Tools and Resources

The following Community Guide resources are designed to help researchers prioritize areas for further research.

  • CPSTF Findings can be sorted and filtered to help you find what you need
  • Evidence Gaps are available for each review
  • Community Guide in Action stories feature examples of agencies, community organizations, and businesses using The Community Guide to improve health and safety

Selected Resources

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

The Campbell Collaboration

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)