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Does vaping influence smoking in young people? How can we easily access the main research looking at this? Our Evidence and Gap Map provides an interactive library of the published research and gaps.

Electronic cigarettes have become very popular over the last decade. There are concerns whether they may influence young people to smoke or not. Researchers have been trying to understand what happens. Having easy access to the research looking at this problem is useful for research funders, researchers and members of society. 

Evidence and gap maps (EGMs) are interactive web-based tools that offer a visual map of the available evidence and areas where it is missing in a specific field. They can work as interactive libraries, helping in informing research priorities.  

How does this research try to address the problem? 

We built an interactive web-based tool that can be used as a guide to the published research that looked into e-cigarettes use or availability and later cigarette smoking in younger people, as well as to the gaps in the evidence.  We followed specific methods and led a series of consultation exercises with stakeholders (policy officers, representatives of Cancer Research UK (CRUK), practitioners and researchers) from the UK, Canada and USA.  The EGM is accompanied by a research report. 

How were patient and the public involved?

Members of the public gave input on the funding application for the project; and on the visual appearance of the EGM and content of the supporting materials on how to use this EGM. 

What are the main aims of this project?

The main aims of this project were to:

  • Produce an evidence and gap map offering a graphic overview of the research exploring e-cigarettes use or access and later cigarette smoking in young people
  • Identify and describe available studies in this field
  • Identify and describe gaps in evidence where more research is needed in this field

Expected impact

This EGM can be used to inform future research, as well as funding priorities and policies.

How to use our evidence and gap map?

This EGM shows recent available evidence exploring the links between e-cigarettes use (“vaping”) and subsequent cigarette smoking in adolescents and young people (under the age of 29 years old) and displays areas where no studies were identified. 

On this webpage we provide instructions on how to use our EGM. 

Please note that visualizing the EGM works best in a computer rather than in a cell phone screen.

Evidence and gap map view 

When you open the map, you will see the panel with options at the left-hand top side of the browser. This will allow you to personalize how you view the information on the map, as explained on Figure 1.

Figure 1.png

Figure 1: Options tool bar

The rows in the map are exposures categories, while the columns are outcome categories. Header rows (OUTCOMES) and columns (EXPOSURES) can be scrolled through to view all categories. You can expand or minimise categories for each column and row (to view sub-categories) by using the arrows << >>. Please note that this will not work if you have selected to hide the headers on the options tool bar.

Matrix and cells

You will see that some cells of the map have “bubbles”, whereas others are empty. Empty cells mean that no studies were found that explore that intersection between exposures and outcomes.  

The size of each bubble is proportional to the number of studies that were identified corresponding to that exposure and outcome. Each colour represents a different type of study (individual level studies, population level studies, higher quality systematic reviews and lower quality systematic reviews). The confidence in the research quality of systematic reviews was assessed using a tool called AMSTAR-2. Individual and population level studies were not assessed for the purpose of this EGM. The legend at the bottom left-hand side of the map explains the colour coding of the bubbles.  

Clicking on a cell provides the list of studies corresponding to that exposure and outcomes. If you click on a study reference, you will see a summary, publication details and the link to access the study report.  

Figure 2 shows an overview of the map.

 Figure 2.jpg

Figure 2: Overview of the EGM



This EGM includes filters which allow the map to show evidence just for the selected filter(s) (E.g., only show studies concerning adolescents).  You can use this option by clicking on “Filters” on the top-left of the EGM, select the categories and then click on “update.

You can also personalize the visualization style of the map by selecting one of the four options on the “Style” menu: bubble, heat, donut and mosaic. “Bubble” is the default style.

Figure 3 shows these steps.

FIgure 3.png

Figure 3: Filters

On the glossary you will find what each of the terms in our EGM mean.