Streamlined versus extensive search methods - is there a difference?

Tags: Poster
Mann M1, Klerings I2, Woodward A3, Nelson A3, Byrne A3
1Cardiff University, 2Cochrane Public Health Group, 3Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Centre, Division of Population Medicine, Cardiff

Background: there is increased pressure to conduct good-quality systematic reviews within the constraints of a timescale that meets the needs of healthcare decision makers. In recent years, rapid reviews have become increasingly popular as an efficient approach to synthesizing evidence. In most rapid review methodology, some components of the systematic review process are streamlined or omitted to produce information in a timely manner. It is often the literature search component that is streamlined. This might be susceptible to bias, as striving for balance between comprehensiveness and timeliness can be a challenge.

Objectives: to examine whether rapid review search techniques identified all the studies included in systematic reviews that followed comprehensive literature search approach. To compare the number of records retrieved by rapid review searches to those found by comprehensive searches.

Methods: using the data given in systematic review protocols registered in PROSPERO (international database of prospectively registered systematic reviews), we will design and carry out searches employing two streamlined rapid review search methods, one focused on limiting the number of databases, the other on focusing the search strategies. The spectrum of topics includes pharmacological, surgical and screening interventions as well as healthcare management. We will document number of references retrieved, calculate the sensitivity of each search approach, the approximate time taken to carry out the searches, and compare the data to the original searches.

Results: we will draw a comparison between the total number of records identified in the streamlined versus extensive search and the time needed to conduct the search. We will examine whether the included studies in each systematic review were identified in the abbreviated search. We will assess whether non-retrieval of studies is due to review topic, database selection, restrictions of the search strategy, or the type of publication (i.e. grey or unpublished literature) included in the systematic reviews.

Conclusions: to expedite the process whilst maintaining high quality and rigour is of highest importance. This analysis will provide authors embarking on a systematic review to consider developing efficient search strategies and to balance between comprehensiveness and timeliness.

Patient or healthcare consumer involvement: even though, consumers were not involved in this study, they were part of the review advisory group in one of the rapid review programmes.