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n Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine - Development and implementation of an HIV / AIDS trials management system : a geographical information systems approach : case study
Introduction. Researchers, practitioners and policymakers make decisions at all levels - from local to international. Accessible, integrated and up-to-date evidence is essential for successful and responsive decision-making. A current trials register of randomised and clinically controlled trials of HIV / AIDS interventions can provide invaluable information to decision-making processes. Using the newly emerging geographical information systems (GIS) technology, we have developed a tool which assists such decisions.
Objective. To demonstrate how the tool provides consistent, quantitative information in an accessible format, making it a key tool in evidence-based decision-making.
Methods. We identified all HIV / AIDS trials in relation to publications for the period 1980 - 2007, using both electronic and manual search methods. To facilitate searching the trials register, studies were coded by using a comprehensive but user-friendly coding sheet. We captured the geographical co-ordinates for each trial and used the ArcGIS 9 mapping software to design and develop a geodatabase of trials.
Results. The geodatabase delivered the complete requirements for a data-driven information system, featuring the following functions: (i) a clear display of the spatial distribution of HIV / AIDS trials around the world; (ii) identification of and access to information about any particular trial on a map; and (iii) a global resource of potential information on the safety and efficacy of prevention and treatment measures.
Conclusions. The building of a functioning HIV / AIDS trials management system can provide policymakers, researchers and practitioners with accessible, integrated and up-to-date evidence that is essential to successful and dynamic decision-making.
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