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Article Alert

The free Article Alert service delivers a weekly email to your inbox containing the most recently published articles on all aspects of systematic review and comparative effectiveness review methodologies.

  • Medical, psychological, educational, etc., methodology research literatures covered
  • Curated by our seasoned research staff from a wide array of sources: PubMed, journal table of contents, author alerts, bibliographies, and prominent international methodology and grey literature Web sites
  • Averages 20 citations/week (pertinent citations screened from more than 1,500 citations weekly)
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The Article Alert for the week of May 23, 2016 (sample articles)

Huang Y, Yang Z, Wang J, Zhuo L, Li Z, Zhan S. Performance of search strategies to retrieve systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy from the Cochrane Library. J.Evid Based.Med. Epub 2016 May 6. PMID: 27152676.

Aim: To compare the performance of search strategies to retrieve systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy from The Cochrane Library.
Methods: Databases of CDSR and DARE in the Cochrane Library were searched for systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy published between 2008 and 2012 through nine search strategies. Each strategy consists of one group or combination of groups of searching filters about diagnostic test accuracy. Four groups of diagnostic filters were used. The Strategy combing all the filters was used as the reference to determine the sensitivity, precision, and the sensitivity x precision product for another eight Strategies.
Results: The reference Strategy retrieved 8029 records, of which 832 were eligible. The strategy only composed of MeSH terms about "accuracy measures" achieved the highest values in both precision (69.71%) and product (52.45%) with a moderate sensitivity (75.24%). The combination of MeSH terms and free text words about "accuracy measures" contributed little to increasing the sensitivity. Strategies composed of filters about "diagnosis" had similar sensitivity but lower precision and product to those composed of filters about "accuracy measures". MeSH term "exp'diagnosis' " achieved the lowest precision (9.78%) and product (7.91%), while its hyponym retrieved only half the number of records at the expense of missing 53 target articles. The precision was negatively correlated with sensitivities among the nine strategies.
Conclusions: Compared to the filters about "diagnosis", the filters about "accuracy measures" achieved similar sensitivities but higher precision. When combining both terms, sensitivity of the strategy was enhanced obviously. The combination of MeSH terms and free text words about the same concept seemed to be meaningless for enhancing sensitivity. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


Booth A. Searching for qualitative research for inclusion in systematic reviews: a structured methodological review. Syst.Rev. 2016 May 4;5(1):74. PMID: 27145932.

Background: Qualitative systematic reviews or qualitative evidence syntheses (QES) are increasingly recognised as a way to enhance the value of systematic reviews (SRs) of clinical trials. They can explain the mechanisms by which interventions, evaluated within trials, might achieve their effect. They can investigate differences in effects between different population groups. They can identify which outcomes are most important to patients, carers, health professionals and other stakeholders. QES can explore the impact of acceptance, feasibility, meaningfulness and implementation-related factors within a real world setting and thus contribute to the design and further refinement of future interventions. To produce valid, reliable and meaningful QES requires systematic identification of relevant qualitative evidence. Although the methodologies of QES, including methods for information retrieval, are well-documented, little empirical evidence exists to inform their conduct and reporting.
Methods: This structured methodological overview examines papers on searching for qualitative research identified from the Cochrane Qualitative and Implementation Methods Group Methodology Register and from citation searches of 15 key papers.
Results: A single reviewer reviewed 1299 references. Papers reporting methodological guidance, use of innovative methodologies or empirical studies of retrieval methods were categorised under eight topical headings: overviews and methodological guidance, sampling, sources, structured questions, search procedures, search strategies and filters, supplementary strategies and standards.
Conclusions: This structured overview presents a contemporaneous view of information retrieval for qualitative research and identifies a future research agenda. This review concludes that poor empirical evidence underpins current information practice in information retrieval of qualitative research. A trend towards improved transparency of search methods and further evaluation of key search procedures offers the prospect of rapid development of search methods.


Jørgensen L, Paludan-Müller AS, Laursen DR, Savović J, Boutron I, Sterne JA, Higgins JP, Hróbjartsson A. Evaluation of the Cochrane tool for assessing risk of bias in randomized clinical trials: overview of published comments and analysis of user practice in Cochrane and non-Cochrane reviews. Syst.Rev. 2016 May 10;5(1):80. PMID: 27160280.

Background: The Cochrane risk of bias tool for randomized clinical trials was introduced in 2008 and has frequently been commented on and used in systematic reviews. We wanted to evaluate the tool by reviewing published comments on its strengths and challenges and by describing and analysing how the tool is applied to both Cochrane and non-Cochrane systematic reviews.
Methods: A review of published comments (searches in PubMed, The Cochrane Methodology Register and Google Scholar) and an observational study (100 Cochrane and 100 non-Cochrane reviews from 2014).
Results: Our review included 68 comments, 15 of which were categorised as major. The main strengths of the tool were considered to be its aim (to assess trial conduct and not reporting), its developmental basis (wide consultation, empirical and theoretical evidence) and its transparent procedures. The challenges of the tool were mainly considered to be its choice of core bias domains (e.g. not involving funding/conflicts of interest) and issues to do with implementation (i.e. modest inter-rater agreement) and terminology. Our observational study found that the tool was used in all Cochrane reviews (100/100) and was the preferred tool in non-Cochrane reviews (31/100). Both types of reviews frequently implemented the tool in non-recommended ways. Most Cochrane reviews planned to use risk of bias assessments as basis for sensitivity analyses (70 %), but only a minority conducted such analyses (19 %) because, in many cases, few trials were assessed as having "low" risk of bias for all standard domains (6 %). The judgement of at least one risk of bias domain as "unclear" was found in 89 % of included randomized clinical trials (1103/1242).
Conclusions: The Cochrane tool has become the standard approach to assess risk of bias in randomized clinical trials but is frequently implemented in a non-recommended way. Based on published comments and how it is applied in practice in systematic reviews, the tool may be further improved by a revised structure and more focused guidance.