Standards, methods, and guidance for evidence synthesis in environmental health
My main area of research is adaptation of systematic review methods from clinical to environmental health and toxicological contexts. I work on best practice standards for conduct of systematic reviews and the development of critical appraisal tools for assessing the quality of primary and secondary research - in particular, how such tools can be applied in manuscript production workflows to raise publishing standards.
I also working on methods for computable research, that would allow data about study methods and findings to be automatically added to research databases. This could enable a step-change in research accessibility, taking data out from behind journal paywalls, allowing automated systematic review, and enabling full access to the wealth of scientific data humans generate but now exceeds our capacity to review.
Evidence Mapping and Computable Research
Evidence maps are a novel evidence synthesis product which allow systematic identification of gaps and gluts in decision-critical evidence. However, they only really work if we can move our vast store of scientific information from unstructured archives of PDFs into queryable databases. This requires us to teach machines to "read" scientific documents, develop semantic authoring tools for writing scientific studies, and create comprehensive research metadata records in suitable underlying knowledge organisation systems. If we do this, we could move away from manual systematic reviews into more automated methods of synthesising evidence.
Best Practice in Systematic Review
I work on developing and promoting best practice standards for conduct of systematic reviews and evidence maps in the environmental health sciences. This mainly involves adapting existing standards in use in biomedical research to the toxicology and environmental health context. The idea is that, if we can provide environmental health researchers with an authoritative recipe-book for conducting systematic reviews, it should help them reduce the risk of conducting unsuccessful SR projects.
Critical Appraisal Guidance and Instruments
While there are a lot of critical appraisal tools for helping people distinguish more credible studies from less, it is not always clear which tool should be used and when, nor if any given tool is actually fit-for-purpose. I am working on or contributing to several tools for critically appraising systematic reviews and primary studies, concentrating on ensuring they target an appropriate quality construct for the context in which they are to be used, that are reasonably intuitive, and they reliably distinguish higher-quality from lower-quality research.
Peer-reviewed journal articles
Pega, F. et al. (2022) ‘Towards a framework for systematic reviews of the prevalence of exposure to environmental and occupational risk factors’, Environmental Health, 21(1), p. 64. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12940-022-00878-4
Menon, J.M.L., Struijs, F. and Whaley, P. (2022) ‘The methodological rigour of systematic reviews in environmental health’, Critical reviews in toxicology, pp. 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408444.2022.2082917
Hoffmann et al. (2022) Application of evidence-based methods to construct mechanism-driven chemical assessment frameworks. ALTEX. https://doi.org/10.14573/altex.2202141
Frampton et al. (2022) Principles and framework for assessing the risk of bias for studies included in comparative quantitative environmental systematic reviews. Environmental Evidence. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13750-022-00264-0
Wilkins et al. (2022) Assessing author willingness to enter study information into structured data templates as part of the manuscript submission process: A pilot study. Heliyon. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2022.e09095
Whaley et al. (2022) Biological plausibility in environmental health systematic reviews: a GRADE concept paper. J. Clin. Epi. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclinepi.2022.02.011
Hoffmann et al. (2022) How evidence-based methodologies can help identify and reduce uncertainty in chemical risk assessment. ALTEX https://doi.org/10.14573/altex.2201131
Verbeek et al. (2021) An approach to quantifying the potential importance of residual confounding in systematic reviews of observational studies: A GRADE concept paper Environment International https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.106868
Whaley et al. (2021) 'Improving the quality of toxicology and environmental health systematic reviews: What journal editors can do' ALTEX https://doi.org/10.14573/altex.2106111
Sharma et al. (2021) 'Towards guidelines for time-trend reviews examining temporal variability in human biomonitoring data of pollutants' Environment International https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.106437
de Vries et al. (2021) 'Applying evidence-based methods to the development and use of adverse outcome pathways.' ALTEX https://doi.org/10.14573/altex.2101211
Whaley P. et al. (2020) Knowledge organization systems for systematic chemical assessments.' Environmental Health Perspectives https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP6994
Whaley P. et al. (2020) 'Recommendations for conduct of systematic reviews in toxicology and environmental health research (COSTER)' Environment International https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2020.105926
Robinson, C. et al. (2020) ‘Achieving a high level of protection from pesticides in Europe: Problems with the current risk assessment procedure and solutions’ European Journal of Risk Regulation https://doi.org/10.1017/err.2020.18
Wolffe, T. et al. (2020) ‘A survey of systematic evidence mapping practice and the case for knowledge graphs in environmental health & toxicology’ Toxicological Sciences https://doi.org/10.1093/toxsci/kfaa025
Wittwehr, C. et al. (2020) ‘Artificial Intelligence for Chemical Risk Assessment’, Computational Toxicology doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.comtox.2019.100114
Wolffe, T. A. M., Whaley, P., et al. (2019). 'Systematic evidence maps as a novel tool to support evidence-based decision-making in chemicals policy and risk management.' Environment International. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.05.065
Hartung, T. et al. (2019) ‘Toward Good In Vitro Reporting Standards.’, ALTEX, doi: https://doi.org/10.14573/altex.1812191
Morgan, R. L. et al. (2019) ‘A risk of bias instrument for non-randomized studies of exposures: A users’ guide to its application in the context of GRADE’, Environment International. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2018.11.004
Morgan, R. L. et al. (2018) ‘Identifying the PECO: A framework for formulating good questions to explore the association of environmental and other exposures with health outcomes’, Environment International. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2018.07.015
Haddaway, N. R. et al. (2018) ‘ROSES Reporting standards for Systematic Evidence Syntheses: Pro forma, flow-diagram and descriptive summary of the plan and conduct of environmental systematic reviews and systematic maps’, Environmental Evidence. doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13750-018-0121-7
Whaley, P. & Wikoff, D. (2018) 'Qualitative methods for integrating evidence within and across evidence streams for hazard identification' EFSA Supporting Publications. doi: https://doi.org/10.2903/sp.efsa.2018.EN-1396
Hoffmann, S. et al. (2017) ‘A primer on systematic reviews in toxicology’, Archives of Toxicology. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00204-017-1980-3
Vandenberg, L. N. et al. (2016) ‘A proposed framework for the systematic review and integrated assessment (SYRINA) of endocrine disrupting chemicals’, Environmental Health. doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12940-016-0156-6
Whaley, P. et al. (2016) ‘Implementing systematic review techniques in chemical risk assessment: Challenges, opportunities and recommendations’, Environment International. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2015.11.002
US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (2022) Review of U.S. EPA's ORD Staff Handbook for Developing IRIS Assessments. https://doi.org/10.17226/26289
WHO Chemical Risk Assessment Network (2021) Framework for the use of systematic review in chemical risk assessment. https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/347876
Robinson, C. et al. (2018) Ensuring a higher level of protection from pesticides in Europe: The problems with current pesticide risk assessment procedures in the EU - and proposed solutions. PAN Europe. doi: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2543743
Whaley, P. and Halsall C. (2014) Identifying and Monitoring Pollution Risks from On-Shore Hydraulic Fracturing Operations. Lancaster University and Inteb Ltd.
Whaley, P. (2014) EFSA's Draft 2014 Scientific Opinion on the risks to public health related to the presence of bisphenol-A (BPA) in foodstuffs: a critical appraisal. Policy from Science Project
Whaley, P. (2013) Systematic Review and the Future of Evidence in Chemicals Policy. Policy from Science Project
Whaley, P. and Roth, N. (2022) ‘How we promote rigour in systematic reviews and evidence maps at Environment International’, Environment international, p. 107543. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2022.107543
Pega et al. (2021) Systematic reviews and meta-analyses for the WHO/ILO Joint Estimates of the Work-related Burden of Disease and Injury. Environment International https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.106605
Radke, E. G. et al. (2020). Application of US EPA IRIS systematic review methods to the health effects of phthalates: Lessons learned and path forward. Environment International. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2020.105820
Whaley, P. and Halsall, C. (2016) ‘Assuring high-quality evidence reviews for chemical risk assessment: Five lessons from guest editing the first environmental health journal special issue dedicated to systematic review’, Environment International. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2016.04.016
Whaley, P. et al. (2016) ‘Raising the standard of systematic reviews published in Environment International’, Environment International. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2016.08.007
Verbeek et al. (2022) Potential importance of residual confounding in systematic reviews of observational studies: Answer to Mathur and VanderWeele. Environment International. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.107010
Haddaway, N. R. et al. (2018) ‘Response to “Every ROSE has its thorns”’, Environmental Evidence. doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13750-018-0133-3
Page, J. et al. (2012) ‘Priorities for cancer prevention’, The Lancet Oncology, 13(6). doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(12)70140-7
Whaley, P. (2014) ‘Childhood obesity and the environment’. in D Haslam, A Sharma & C le Roux (eds), Controversies in obesity. Springer, pp. 97-102.
Menon et al. (2020) A Survey of the Basic Scientific Quality of Systematic Reviews in Environmental Health. https://osf.io/mnpvs
de Vries, R.B.M. & Whaley, P.A. (2018) In Vitro Critical Appraisal Tool (IV-CAT): Tool Development Protocol. Evidence-Based Toxicology Collaboration doi: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1493498