Western Libraries Undergraduate Research Awards (WLURAs)


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a chronic disorder with negative health consequences for millions of women. The paucity of research regarding interventions targeting the psychosocial symptoms of PCOS for adolescents and young adults (AYAs), susceptible to low self-esteem and depression, warranted this review. This paper provides an overview of research on the social supports currently available for AYAs and identifies areas where further research is required to elucidate their support needs. A scoping review methodology identified 15 studies that met inclusion criteria. Findings revealed that this is an emerging field of research and most included studies originated in North America. Thematic organization of the findings suggested two broad themes: pre-diagnostic support concerns and post-diagnostic support resources. Within the first theme, three sub-themes arose: (dis)satisfaction with information received about PCOS, delayed diagnoses, and a need for increasing healthcare provider support. A lack of research specific to the support needs of transgender PCOS patients was additionally identified. The results of this study can be used to inform the development of evidence-based support interventions and educational requirements for graduate school curriculums that enable future healthcare providers to adequately provide support when diagnosing, educating, presenting treatment options, and directing PCOS patients to support resources.

How did you choose your research topic and/or design your research question? (200 words)

The intersection of women and health is a broad area of research that I am thoroughly interested in, inspired partly by the lack of research specific to women’s health concerns that have reflected those who were conducting scientific research in the past – primarily white men. This lack of research specific to women’s needs understandably yields negative health outcomes. Over the past six months, I have experienced firsthand the stress and loneliness of navigating a PCOS diagnosis, and from this position, I narrowed down my area of interest to a more specific research question that suited the requirements of my Academic Health Communication course; what social supports are available for adolescent and young adult PCOS patients? Initially, I had considered a topic reviewing the self-esteem issues of PCOS undergraduate students, however after preliminary searching and a discussion with my professor, I determined there was not enough critical mass of literature in this emerging field for such a specific question, leading me to adjust my question and determine my final topic. This experience was a unique opportunity to become intimately acquainted with the body of literature regarding my condition and contribute meaningfully by synthesizing this information.

How did you find library/archives services and resources for your research topic? (200 words)

In week five of our course, a Western teaching and learning librarian conducted a tutorial focusing on systematic and scoping reviews and effective database searching. Vital information about eligibility criteria, information sources, and crafting a search with keywords, MeSH headings, and Boolean operators was covered. Additionally, the librarian directed us to further pre-recorded library presentations, “How to Conduct a Search for a Scoping Review” and “Covidence 101”, to inform our assignments. With this information and after consultation with another research librarian, I developed a search strategy on MEDLINE (Ovid) that I recreated in three other databases: EMBASE (Ovid), PsycINFO (Ovid), and CINAHL. The steps in my process included:

  • Developing my research question: “What social supports are available for adolescent and young adult PCOS patients?”
  • Isolating the key concepts from my research question: social support, PCOS, adolescents and young adults
  • Brainstorming keywords (a comprehensive list can be found in the Appendix of my paper)
    • Social support: Self-Help Groups (MeSH), social care, online social support
    • PCOS: polycystic ovarian syndrome, Stein Leventhal syndrome
    • Adolescents and young adults: teenagers, youth
  • Combining search results using OR then AND Boolean operators
  • The final search provided 21 articles on MEDLINE (Ovid)

What library/archives services and resources did you use to perform your research? (200 words)

The beginning of my considerable usage of library services and resources involved attending a Systematic/Scoping Review online workshop on January 31st, followed by an in-class presentation by a librarian regarding systematic and scoping reviews and effective database searching on February 7th. I also booked an online systematic/scoping review consultation with a research librarian regarding my preliminary search strategy on March 7th. I watched Videos and How-Tos on the Western Libraries website to supplement this information, including “Review Articles: A very brief introduction” and “Get it @ Western not working.” Access to articles through Western databases proved to be immensely valuable, and when I could not access full-text articles, a librarian at Allyn and Betty Taylor Library helped me with the process of requesting full-text articles through Interlibrary Loans. I requested four digitized articles using this service during my article screening process in Covidence. I used the Ask: Chat with a Librarian service extensively for advice, such as how some of the study designs of my included articles could be classified. Additionally, I completed the majority of the writing for my paper in the John and Dotsa Bitove Family Law Library – a quiet study space where I could be productive.