COVID-19 literature surveillance—A framework to manage the literature and support evidence-based decision-making on a rapidly evolving public health topic

Date & Time
Tuesday, September 5, 2023, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Location Name
Session Type
Capacity building in evidence synthesis
Corrin T1, Ayache D1, Baumeister A1, Young K1, Pussegoda K1, Ahmad R1, Waddell L1
1Public Health Agency of Canada, Canada

Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to a rapid surge of literature on SARS-CoV-2 and the wider impacts of the pandemic. Research on COVID-19 has been produced at an unprecedented rate, and the ability to stay on top of the most relevant evidence is top priority for clinicians, researchers, public health professionals, and policymakers.
Objectives: We present a knowledge synthesis methodology developed and used by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) for managing and maintaining a literature surveillance system to identify, characterize, categorize, and disseminate COVID-19 evidence.
Methods: The Daily Scan of COVID-19 Literature project comprised a systematic process involving four main steps: literature search; screening for relevance; classification and summarization of studies; and disseminating a daily report.
Results: As of the end of January 2023 there were approximately 470,000 COVID-19 and pandemic-related citations in the COVID-19 database, of which 50%–60% were primary research. The results of the Daily Scan continue to be used in a variety of ways to promote the use of up-to-date evidence by researchers and policymakers across the agency and other organizations. Evidence synthesis teams across PHAC capitalize on this database resource to rapidly respond to urgent requests for evidence, conduct rapid evidence syntheses on priority questions, and to streamline evidence into other domain-focused projects (e.g. vaccines, therapeutics, public health measures). Other groups utilize the searchable repository for reporting evidence highlights to senior management, identifying parameter values for predictive models, creating guidelines, web content and answering media requests. The presentation will include a discussion on the resources needed for this project and how technology may be used in future events to improve efficiencies.
Conclusions: This central repository of COVID-19 literature continues to be maintained to aid in accelerated evidence synthesis activities and support evidence-based decision-making during the pandemic response in Canada. This systematic process can be applied to future rapidly evolving public health topics that require the continuous evaluation and dissemination of evidence.
Patient, public and/or healthcare consumer involvement: This methodology contributes to comprehensive up-to-date evidence to be used in evidence-informed decision making for patients and the public.