In conducting any literature review a researcher must weigh up quality (i.e. finding relevant studies to your research question), and quantity (i.e. being swamped by the sheer volume of publications). It is a delicate balance, which has been taking me quite some time to figure out. One issue I’ve been grappling with in particular has been deciding how to limit identified studies geographically.
My PhD thesis is concerned with England. It is interested in how young people’s contraceptive needs are being met since the Health And Social Care Act (2012) came into force. As such, the aim of my literature review is to find out what factors have been shown to be effective in providing contraception to young people. An important consideration to this is ensuring that studies I include are relevant and able to answer my question, and like any good researcher I’ve got a pre-defined set of inclusion criteria.
However, I do want to include studies from as many relevant populations as possible. And therefore I ought to look beyond England. I know that Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland also provide free contraception methods and services to their populations (including young people)… but what about other developed* countries?
*The needs and organisation of health care varies across all countries. In order to identify countries which are in some ways similar to England, I’m only exploring countries with a Very High Human Development Index (2013 report). This is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, standards of living and quality of life for countries worldwide, used to distinguish development.
I have stumbled across some useful looking tables published by Slate (screen shots below – link to interactive maps here)
Although this doesn’t tell me about all possible contraception methods, it does inform me about two (so its better than nothing). From this article I was able to identify and download the relevant dataset on reproductive health laws (last updated in 2008) and fill in the table below…
|Country||Is the pill free?||Are condoms free?|
Although its not all the information I would like, it is a starting point. And from this useful dataset, I’ll be better informed as to whether research from specific countries may or may not be comparable.
Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing?
Finlay, Jocelyn; Canning, David; Po, June, 2012, “Replication data for: Reproductive Health Laws Around the World 1960-present”, http://hdl.handle.net/1902.1/20466 UNF:5:Gwy3Mjtl8UwvSpY5fv+fmA== V2 [Version]