Background: From priority issues such as Lyme disease, to unprecedented emergency issues like Zika virus, synthesis research can support decision making, predictive modelling, risk assessments and research activities.
Objectives: Adapt knowledge synthesis methodologies, including scoping reviews and systematic reviews to develop evidence-informed summaries on priority vector-borne disease issues in support of public health decision making and prevention activities.
Methods: We have conducted several scoping reviews, systematic reviews and meta-analyses on vector-borne diseases over the last five years. We have developed methods that accommodate diverse evidence and study designs while maintaining accountability and minimising bias in our synthesis reviews. There are several challenges to summarising data on humans, hosts and vectors that stem from the inclusion of an array of literature. The unique challenges will be highlighted in the presentation.
Results: Using examples from synthesis research projects on Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi), Chikungunya, Zika and Powassan viruses I will demonstrate how we use stakeholder engagement to guide our synthesis research, how we adapted the risk-of-bias tools to observational studies and the strategies that have been developed to summarise diverse information.
Conclusions: Synthesis research methodologies can be adapted and used to address almost any research question including infectious disease public health issues. There are often large quantities of literature addressing an array of questions on any given topic that needs to be identified and summarised to facilitate evidence-informed decision making in public health. The strengths of synthesis research methodologies; accountability, transparency and reproducibility, are highly valued attributes. The need to appropriately prioritise topics for synthesis research when limited resources are available, and the skills, time and man-power required have been a barrier for wide-spread adoption of synthesis research in the area of infectious disease public health.