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Volume 30 , Issue 1
January/February 2017

Pages 1321

A Critical Review of Search Strategies Used in Recent Systematic Reviews Published in Selected Prosthodontic and Implant-Related Journals: Are Systematic Reviews Actually Systematic?

Danielle Layton, BDSc, MDSc, MSc, DPhil

PMID: 28085971
DOI: 10.11607/ijp.5193

Purpose: The aim of this study was to outline how search strategies can be systematic, to examine how the searches in recent systematic reviews in prosthodontic and implant-related journals were structured, and to determine whether the search strategies used in those articles were systematic. Materials and Methods: A total of 103 articles published as systematic reviews and indexed in Medline between January 2013 and May 2016 were identified from eight prosthodontic and implant journals and reviewed. The search strategies were considered systematic when they met the following criteria: (1) more than one electronic database was searched, (2) more than one searcher was clearly involved, (3) both text words and indexing terms were clearly included in the search strategy, (4) a hand search of selected journals or reference lists was undertaken, (5) gray research was specifically sought, and (6) the articles were published in English and at least one other language. The data were tallied and qualitatively assessed. Results: The majority of articles reported on implants (54%), followed by tooth-supported fixed prosthodontics (13%). A total of 23 different electronic resources were consulted, including Medline (by 100% of articles), the Cochrane Library (52%), and Embase (37%). The majority consulted more than one electronic resource (71%), clearly included more than one searcher (73%), and employed a hand search of either selected journals or reference lists (86%). Less than half used both text words and indexing terms to identify articles (42%), while 15% actively sought gray research. Articles published in languages other than English were considered in 63 reviews, but only 14 had no language restrictions. Of the 103 articles, 5 completed search strategies that met all 6 criteria, and a further 12 met 5 criteria. Two articles did not fulfill any of the criteria. Conclusion: More than 95% of recent prosthodontic and implant review articles published in the selected journals failed to use search strategies that were systematic, and this undermines the conclusions. Many resources are available to help investigators design search strategies for systematic reviews that minimize the risk of omitting important data, including the simple criteria presented in this paper.

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