Optimal search strategies for retrieving systematic reviews from Medline: Analytical survey

Victor Manuel Montori, Nancy L. Wilczynski, Douglas Morgan, R. Brian Haynes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

257 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: To develop optimal search strategies in Medline for retrieving systematic reviews. Design: Analytical survey. Data sources: 161 journals published in 2000 indexed in Medline. Main outcome measures: The sensitivity, specificity, and precision of retrieval of systematic reviews of 4862 unique terms in 782 485 combinations of one to five terms were determined by comparison with a hand search of all articles (the criterion standard) in 161 journals published during 2000 (49 028 articles). Results: Only 753 (1.5%) of the 49 028 articles were systematic reviews. The most sensitive strategy included five terms and had a sensitivity of 99.9% (95% confidence interval 99.6% to 100%) and a specificity of 52% (51.6% to 52.5%). The strategy that best minimised the difference between sensitivity and specificity had a sensitivity of 98% (97% to 99%) and specificity of 90.8% (90.5% to 91.1%). Highest precision for multiterm strategies, 57% (54% to 60%), was achieved at a sensitivity of 71% (68% to 74%). The term "cochrane database of systematic reviews.jn." was the most precise single term search strategy (sensitivity of 56% (52% to 60%) and precision of 96% (94% to 98%)). These strategies are available through the "limit" screen of Ovid's search interface for Medline. Conclusions: Systematic reviews can be retrieved from Medline with close to perfect sensitivity or specificity, or with high precision, by using empirical search strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-71
Number of pages4
JournalBritish Medical Journal
Volume330
Issue number7482
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 8 2005

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Sensitivity and Specificity
Information Storage and Retrieval
Outcome Assessment (Health Care)
Databases
Confidence Intervals
Surveys and Questionnaires

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Optimal search strategies for retrieving systematic reviews from Medline : Analytical survey. / Montori, Victor Manuel; Wilczynski, Nancy L.; Morgan, Douglas; Haynes, R. Brian.

In: British Medical Journal, Vol. 330, No. 7482, 08.01.2005, p. 68-71.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Montori, Victor Manuel ; Wilczynski, Nancy L. ; Morgan, Douglas ; Haynes, R. Brian. / Optimal search strategies for retrieving systematic reviews from Medline : Analytical survey. In: British Medical Journal. 2005 ; Vol. 330, No. 7482. pp. 68-71.
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