Identifying Otolaryngology Systematic Review Research Gaps: Comparing Global Burden of Disease 2010 Results With Cochrane Database of Systematic Review Content

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Burden of disease should inform research prioritization.


To determine whether systematic reviews and protocols published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) appropriately reflect disease burden for otolaryngologic conditions as measured by the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2010 project.


Two investigators independently assessed 10 otolaryngologic conditions in CDSR for systematic review and protocol representation from March to June 2014. The otolaryngologic diseases were matched to their respective GBD 2010 disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) to assess their correlation.


Relationship of CDSR representation (based on systematic reviews and protocols) with percentage of total 2010 DALYs, 2010 DALY rank, and DALY percentage change from 1990 to 2010 for 10 otolaryngologic conditions.


All 10 otolaryngologic conditions were represented by at least 1 systematic review in CDSR. The number of reviews and protocols in CDSR was well matched with GBD 2010 disability metrics for only 1 disease, mouth cancer. Upper respiratory infections, otitis media, thyroid cancer, and cleft lip and cleft palate were overrepresented in CDSR, and esophageal cancer, “other hearing loss,” nasopharynx cancer, larynx cancer, and “cancer of other part of pharynx and oropharynx” were underrepresented.


The representation of otolaryngologic conditions in CDSR correlates poorly with DALY metrics. The results of this study may guide future research prioritization and allocation of funds.

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