Have you ever heard of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)? Neither had I before Spring 2016. As part of the Clinical Research Internship course, I joined a team at Inova Fairfax Hospital in the Liver Outcomes Research Program studying liver diseases like NAFLD. Last semester I worked on doing an extensive literature review in the Scoping Review style. This involved sifting through literally thousands of research articles that were identified using a designated set of search terms. In the end, the scoping review of the literature revealed that there is very little research being done about the behaviors that may lead to the development or worsening of NAFLD.
Next step? Do something to fill that research gap! Through OSCAR, I was able to continue my project and create a survey that would measure “Food Behaviors” – aspects of how people eat rather than what they eat. When you think food behaviors, think how long a person spends eating a meal, how often he or she snacks throughout the day, etc. The next step (after undergoing IRB), will be to pilot test the survey that I have formatted online using Qualtrics. Because this is simply a pilot test, I will analyze feedback on the format and content of the survey, rather than the actual responses. I am eager to receive responders’ comments!
The original scoping review involved a lot of reading and good record keeping, and as I learned the review methodology, I had a few setbacks and mistakes along the way. For example, in the beginning I was just sorting articles into “review” or “don’t review” categories, but without recording anything! Because I hadn’t created a database of all the titles of articles I had read and sorted, I had to start all over again. While this was painful, it was a great lesson! Carrying out this research has taught me a variety of skills and has been an invaluable experience.