Getting On Track With My Lit Review

Last month, I met with my doctoral project committee chairman to discuss my progress thus far (or lack thereof).  We discussed my topic area, which I’ll describe in a bit, and he gave me some valuable tips for finding relevant information in the clinical literature.  Before leaving, I agreed to complete an annotated outline of my literature review by Presidents’ Day.  I’ve procrastinated pretty badly so far, and now I really need to get to work.

The literature review is often described as the most difficult component of the doc project.  The lit review is important; it summarizes the current state of research and clinical knowledge about one’s topic, and it helps to justify the need for further research.  Essentially, with one’s lit review, he/she hopes to say to the reader: “Here’s what we know about this topic so far, and here’s a gap in that knowledge.  My research is important because it will fill that gap.”  The length of each literature review is different, but in general, they are about 40-60 pages, and they tend to involve at least 60 citations.  Yuck.

My doc project will be a survey of patients who take a class of medications called benzodiazepines.  Commonly used benzodiazepines include Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan.  They have a calming, sedative effect, and are often prescribed to treat various anxiety disorders.  In the short-term, these drugs reduce anxiety very effectively, however there are some concerns about their long-term use.  As is the case with most (if not all) drugs, users quickly develop a tolerance to benzos, and find that they need to take higher and higher dosages to achieve the desired effects.  If benzos are used on a long term-basis, patients risk cognitive and intellectual impairments.  Furthermore, discontinuing such medications is often a slow, difficult process, and if tapering is not handled properly, withdrawal symptoms can include severe “rebound anxiety,” insomnia, and in some rare cases, seizures.  Finally, some research suggests that patients who take benzodiazepines are less likely to learn other coping methods in therapy.

In any case, for my lit review, I need to find as much research as I can about ideal medical standards for benzodiazepine prescriptions, statistics on actual benzo prescriptions (who prescribes what to who for how long), doctors’ attitudes about benzos, and finally, doctor-patient communication.  So far, I have four articles on medical standards and a book on discontinuing anxiety medications.  It’s barely a start, and there’s still quite a bit of work to be done.  Time to get to it.

About sskeenmspp

Hey everyone, my name is Sam Skeen. I’m currently a third year PsyD student. I’m primarily interested in individual therapy with adults and adolescents and assessment with people of all ages. This year, I’m doing my field placement work at Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center, where I am learning to conduct therapy in Spanish. I also have a part time job at MSPP’s Academic Resource Center, where I help other MSPP students complete challenging academic tasks. In my spare time, I like to exercise, cook, mess with my cat (an activity that once screened me as a potential sociopath on a personality test), update my fantasy hockey lineup obsessively, and of course, satiate my Words with Friends addiction.
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5 Responses to Getting On Track With My Lit Review

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  3. Awesome Sam! I can tell your not really a sociopath. You just seem like the type of guy who likes to have conventional fun. Looking forward to more posts from you! :)

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  4. sskeenmspp says:

    Thanks for reading Laptop! We aim to please :)

  5. I’ve seen that you are a great team here at MSSP. It is nice how you keep posting at least 1 post each day. Keep the good work :)

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