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Advancing Health Equity Through Collaborative Literature Reviews


By Q. Eileen Wafford, Mst, MLIS, AHIP, Research Librarian 

Amidst growing awareness of health disparities and the pressing need to address them, Galter Health Sciences Library and Learning Center has emerged as a resource in advancing health equity research. Galter librarians collaborate with students, faculty, staff, and affiliated researchers at Feinberg to tackle systemic disparities and drive positive change in healthcare for all through evidence synthesis projects such as systematic and scoping reviews. 

Galter’s Systematic and Scoping Review Service provides members of Feinberg with consultative or full-collaborative support from a librarian on a review. When it is feasible to support teams as full collaborators, librarians will work alongside teams from the start of the process to assist with search methodologies and protocol development. Upon protocol completion and registration on an online platform such as PROSPERO, librarians perform tasks that include conducting the search on various databases, providing documentation, and reviewing the manuscript before submission. 

The following examples spotlight collaborative reviews and evidence synthesis projects with Galter librarians, all centered around advancing health equity.

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Readiness assessments for gender-affirming surgical treatments

The review team leveraged the skill and knowledge of a research librarian at Galter to conduct a systematic scoping review to examine gender-affirming surgeries. After review studies were generated from a search of PubMed, the Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Scopus, and ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global, the team found a reduction in stigma against transgender and gender-diverse individuals as well as the evolution in ethical focus, moving from a “do no harm” approach to prioritizing the fundamental principle of patient autonomy. While progress has been made, the authors found that more needs to be accomplished to reduce the barriers to accessible and affordable gender-affirming health care.

Citation: Amengual, Travis, Kaitlyn Kunstman, R. Brett Lloyd, Aron Janssen, and Annie B. Wescott. "Readiness assessments for gender-affirming surgical treatments: A systematic scoping review of historical practices and changing ethical considerations." Frontiers in Psychiatry 13 (2022): 1006024.

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Tools to measure the impact of structural racism and discrimination on gastrointestinal and hepatology disease outcomes

This scoping review by Liu et al. assessed measures of structural racism and discrimination (SRD) in gastrointestinal and liver studies. The team followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses scoping reviews (PRISMA-ScR) guidelines and worked with Galter research librarians to develop and apply a comprehensive search strategy across various databases. The resulting review found incorporating measures of SRD and implementing interventions that address this understudied determinant of health is essential to achieve health equity in gastrointestinal and hepatology disease outcomes. 

Citation: Liu, Joy J., Nicole DeCuir, Leila Kia, Jonna Peterson, Corinne Miller, and Rachel B. Issaka. "Tools to Measure the Impact of Structural Racism and Discrimination on Gastrointestinal and Hepatology Disease Outcomes: A Scoping Review." Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology (2022).

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Housing instability and adverse perinatal outcomes

A Galter research librarian collaborated with the review team to apply a comprehensive search strategy to the PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, and Scopus databases. This review uncovered a connection between housing instability and adverse pregnancy outcomes, emphasizing the necessity for further evaluation and research to standardize the definition of housing instability as a social determinant of perinatal health and to develop interventions that address housing instability during pregnancy. 

Citation: DiTosto, Julia D., Kai Holder, Elizabeth Soyemi, Molly Beestrum, and Lynn M. Yee. "Housing instability and adverse perinatal outcomes: a systematic review." American journal of obstetrics & gynecology MFM 3, no. 6 (2021): 100477.

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Food insecurity among Asian Americans

Few studies have explored the disparities in food insecurity and coping strategies among Asian Americans. In their published protocol, Ro et al. describe their goal to conduct a comprehensive scoping review with the assistance of a Galter research librarian to understand this topic, build momentum for future research, and stimulate policy action to address food insecurity in the Asian American population and among Asian origin groups. 

Citation: Ro, Suji, Nhat-Ha Pham, Victoria N. Huynh, Q. Eileen Wafford, and Milkie Vu. "Food insecurity among Asian Americans: A scoping review protocol." Plos one 18, no. 7 (2023): e0287895.

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Learn more

Collaborating with Galter librarians in health equity research-related literature reviews enhances studies’ quality, rigor, and inclusivity. Researchers can ensure a more comprehensive, accurate, and impactful representation of health disparities and equity issues by engaging librarians in various stages of the research process, from search strategy development to data synthesis. You can learn more about reviews by attending one of the following classes: 

You can also reach out to your liaison librarian for more information.

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Updated: May 28, 2024