Building a COVID-19 Literature Collection with a Disability Focus

As we wrap up National Library Week, we are taking a look at what it takes to maintain a library collection that is relevant, responsive, and reliable. Natalie Collier, our acquisitions manager, shares what we’re doing to track and add research and consumer literature on the coronavirus and its impact on people with disabilities.

NARIC’s REHABDATA index includes more than 200,000 records of disability and rehabilitation literature, from peer reviewed research on conditions and interventions to consumer-oriented pieces like factsheets and guides. The collection grows by about 300 items per month and, since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), that now includes literature about how the virus impacts the lives of people with disabilities, caregivers, and the professionals who support them.

LitCovid, an analysis of new COVID-19 literature being indexed in PubMed, shows that the rate of research articles on this topic has rapidly increased in the last four weeks, and we expect that increase to continue. Within that literature, we’re tracking research on whether people with disabilities are more vulnerable to the virus, and if so whether that is because of their disability, because of secondary conditions, or because of health disparities in the community. We’re monitoring articles on how the pandemic has disrupted access to needed services and supports. Finally, we’re tracking articles addressing concerns about barriers to treatment and healthcare decisions which may violate the civil rights of people with disabilities.

The process for developing, editing, and publishing peer-reviewed literature is generally long and carefully managed. We expect to see some COVID-19 articles “fast tracked” to get reliable, evidence-based research into the hands of practitioners as soon as safely possible, but that will still take time. We have developed screening criteria to select information that provides support to people with disabilities during the crisis, including articles that specifically mention how COVID-19 is affecting the health and wellbeing for people with disabilities, precautions recommended for people with specific disabilities or chronic conditions, and risks factors which may make someone more susceptible to contracting the virus. We are following research on telehealth, telerehabilitation, distance learning for both students and professionals, and other ways providers are working remotely to support their clients or patients. Additionally, we look for information related to pulmonary and respiratory rehabilitation and best-practice protocols and literature on social distancing, caregiver support, food insecurity, distance learning, and racial and ethnic disparities.

How can you track this research?

Our acquisitions process takes about 30 days so, over the next few weeks, you will see COVID-19-related literature in your REHABDATA search results. Until then, here are a few ways you can track it through our database and other indexing databases:

  • Related REHABDATA searches for respiratory AND therapy, health disparities, and identifying and combating social isolation.  
  • LitCovid’s search function can flag keywords like disability, or you can search for specific conditions like diabetes or stroke.
  • Google Scholar indexes scholarly literature like journal articles, dissertations, and technical reports. Scholar’s advanced search function lets you combine terms like coronavirus, 2019 NCov, SARS Cov 2, and COVID 19 using the “at least one of these words” function, then you can target additional terms using the “all” or “exact phrase” fields. Here are tips for Google Scholar advanced searching. We recommend saving alerts in Google Scholar once you’ve hit on the right search strategy. You’ll receive an email when new material is indexed.
  • Publishers like Elsevier, Wiley, and Oxford University Press have released their COVID-19 literature for open access during the pandemic. Google Scholar has a list of these links on the main search page. Scitrus from Atyphon uses artificial intelligence to track stories in peer literature, print and television media, and social media.

Our information specialists are available to help you find sources of reliable, scientific information on COVID-19 prevention, interventions, or recovery. Contact us via phone, email, chat, or social media for assistance.

Stay safe, wash your hands, and keep reading!

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