Protocol for a scoping review of the current data practices in forensic medicine
Data related to forensic postmortems or autopsies are still mainly captured in hard copy format and archived. This paper-based practice impacts on the practitioner's ability to report on incidence, prevalence, and statistical trends related to cases that are commonly seen in mortuaries in forensic medicine. An autopsy can be used to inform and provide evidence-based knowledge for further research about important issues, including social development and assist in providing statistics and data
... tistics and data for public health initiatives for implementation and monitoring. Currently, in forensic medicine and pathology research developments are largely hampered by the inefficient data capturing system which only allows access to basic information while pertinent information is largely recorded manually and is therefore difficult to obtain. There is thus a need to improve the efficiency of the data capturing system in forensic pathology, and this review is intended to inform the choice and decisions of appropriate data capture practices and is being conducted to identify nationally and internationally the current data mining and storage systems in place. The methodology for this scoping review will be guided by the methodological framework for scoping review. The search strategy was developed by the authors, and we will conduct a search from 1 January 2008 of electronic databases (Cochrane Library, Scopus, Web of Science, and Science Direct) and search through WorldCat and PubMed for citations and literature using both keywords and the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).The electronic search will be supplemented by hand searching references of the included studies and references in journals and websites. All articles will be assessed for eligibility by two reviewers (the primary and secondary authors) and uploaded into EndNote Excel spreadsheet, and duplicates will be identified and removed. The two reviewers (primary and secondary authors) will screen the eligible abstracts and articles against the inclusion criteria, and selection will be on a minimum percentage agreement of 50%. The selection process will be documented by following and using a PRISMA flow diagram. The extracted data will be analyzed and reported in the form of a narrative review with descriptive analysis and text analysis once the data is summarized for description and characterization. The results of this review will identify and describe data capturing, management, and storage practices for use in forensic medicine. It will also review the efficiency of the different data systems and report where possible on the uses of the data system within the forensic medicine and pathology field. Although research ethics approval is not required for this scoping review because the study will not include human or animal participants, the study was submitted for approval to the University of Kwazulu Natal Biomedical Research Ethics Committee and obtained provisional approval. Data will be sourced only from published literature and gray literature. The results will be presented at relevant national and international conferences and published in a peer-reviewed journal. All search results including excluded studies will be added into an addendum in the article and made available for public perusal to therefore ensure transparency and reproducibility.