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Search strategies to identify diagnostic accuracy studies in MEDLINE and EMBASE


Beynon, R., et al

Subject Keywords: To systematically review empirical studies that report the development or evaluation, or both, of methodological search filters designed to retrieve DTA studies in MEDLINE and EMBASE
Type: Article
Region: International (other)

A diagnostic test is any kind of medical test performed to help with the diagnosis or detection of a disease. A systematic review of a particular diagnostic test for a disease aims to bring together and assess all the available research evidence. Bibliographic databases are usually searched by combining terms for the disease with terms for the diagnostic test. However, depending on the topic area, the number of articles retrieved by such searches may be very large. Methodological filters consisting of text words and database indexing terms have been developed in the hope of improving the searches by increasing their precision when these filters are added to the search terms for the disease and diagnostic test. On the other hand, using filters to identify records for diagnostic reviews may miss relevant studies while at the same time not making a big difference to the number of studies that have to be assessed for inclusion. This review assessed the performance of 70 filters (reported in 19 studies) for identifying diagnostic studies in the two main bibliographic databases in health, MEDLINE and EMBASE. The results showed that search filters do not perform consistently, and should not be used as the only approach in formal searches to inform systematic reviews of diagnostic studies. None of the filters reached our minimum criteria of a sensitivity greater than 90% and a precision above 10%.



Rights: © The Cochrane Collaboration
Suggested citation:

Beynon, R., et al. (2013) Search strategies to identify diagnostic accuracy studies in MEDLINE and EMBASE [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 26th March 2019].


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