Evidence gap maps (EGMs) are a visual tool for presenting the state of evidence in particular thematic areas relevant to international development, with the aim of providing easy access to the best available evidence and highlighting gaps in knowledge. There is little evidence to indicate how people use and interact with them. Usability testing of the existing EGMs was conducted to determine (a) how the EGMs are being used and (b) what is the value of EGMs as an evidence tool.
The research method we used was a qualitative problem-discovery usability study. Eight participants representing clinicians, researcher, and programme managers were asked to complete five tasks using EGMs. This was followed by semi-structured interviews that were recorded and analysed thematically. Findings show that participants could easily understand the maps, methodological strengths and weaknesses of the available sources, and the areas of evidence gaps. However, participants experienced difficulties in understanding the concept of strength of evidence and methodological quality of the reviews. The usability testing helped to identify changes necessary to make the EGMs more accessible to a wide range of audiences.