Background: mistakes or omissions in searching for systematic reviews (SRs) could affect the description of the condition evaluated, the discussion of the agreement or disagreement with other SRs, and (considering the SRs’ list of references) the completeness of the search strategy (Glujovsky 2018a; Glujovsky 2018b). Living OVerview of the Evidence (L•OVE) is a highly sensitivity platform that brings together all the relevant systematic reviews on a specific topic (Epistemonikos 2019).
Objectives: to compare the search results of SRs from L•OVE with the search results from the Cochrane Reviews and with NICE guidelines (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence 2018) of non-pharmacological interventions for adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Methods: we carried out a search strategy using L•OVE on 30 March 2019, using the following strategy: (ADHD OR ADHS OR ADDH) OR ((attentio* OR hyperkine* OR hyperactiv*) AND (defici* OR disorder* OR dysfunct*)). We also explored the list of references from the SR and from the NICE guideline.
Results: we identified 779 SRs in L•OVE, 125 of which referred to non-pharmacological interventions for adults with ADHD. There are two Cochrane Reviews about this topic. One assessed the effectiveness of meditation therapies (Krisanaprakornkit 2018), and another cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) (Lopez 2018). The mindfulness SR was included in the NICE guideline. The other was carried out after the last update of the guideline. In both cases, L•OVE helped identify two previous relevant SRs that were not included in the Cochrane Review about CBT despite fulfilling the criteria defined by the authors (Torgersen 2008; Vidal-Estrada 2012). Additionally, we found one SR abstract record not included in the review about CBT (Thrash 2007). These three references do not include primary studies from the Cochrane Reviews.
Conclusions: improving search methods could be associated with a better description of the condition, a better discussion of SR findings and, even more important, avoidance of the omission of potentially important evidence. Considering the impact that SRs have in decision-making, research, and guidelines development, it is highly important to apply the most sensitive tools to identify the available SRs.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement: none, since it was a methodological study about published systematic reviews.
See references in Box 1.