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Table 1 Databases to search for systematic reviews

From: SUPPORT Tools for evidence-informed health Policymaking (STP) 7: Finding systematic reviews

Database Comments
PPD/CCNCdatabase Features
  • Accessible online at no cost
  • Focused exclusively on governance, financial and delivery arrangements within health systems
  • Contains Cochrane reviews of impacts, other reviews of impacts, and reviews that address other types of questions (e.g. reviews of qualitative studies), as well as overviews of systematic reviews and policy briefs
  • Provides links to user-friendly summaries (when they exist) and to scientific abstracts
  What is in it?
  • Systematic reviews that address any type of question about governance, financial and delivery arrangements within health systems
  • Overviews that identify and synthesise the many systematic reviews that address a specific health systems issue or challenge
  How can it be searched?
  • Type of governance, financial and delivery arrangement (by clicking on the relevant category)
  • Type of systematic review, namely review of impacts, Cochrane review of impacts, and review addressing another type of question
  • Type of overview, namely policy brief written primarily for policymakers and overview of systematic reviews written primarily for researchers
  What resources are provided for search results?
  • Link(s) to a user-friendly summary that highlights decision-relevant information (if available)
     - AustralasianCochraneCentre(ACC)PolicyLiaisonInitiative (primarily for policymakers in Australia)
     - DatabaseofAbstractsofReviewsofEffects(DARE) (primarily for healthcare providers but no limitations per se)
     - EffectiveHealthCareResearchProgrammeConsortium (primarily for healthcare providers and policymakers in low- and middle-income countries)
     - Health-evidence.ca (primarily for public health practitioners and policymakers)
     - ReproductiveHealthLibrary (primarily for reproductive health practitioners and policymakers)
     - RxforChange (primarily for policymakers interested in influencing prescribing behaviour or healthcare provider behaviour more generally)
     - SUPPORT (primarily for policymakers in low- and middle-income countries)
  • Link(s) to a scientific abstract (when available)
  • Link(s) to the full text (which may require a subscription or an access fee)
CochraneLibrary Features
  • Online version (without full-text reviews) accessible at no cost
  • Contains health-focused Cochrane reviews of impacts (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews) and other reviews of impacts (Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects and Health Technology Assessment Database)
  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews provides access to scientific abstracts and user-friendly summaries (targeted at lay people). DARE provides links to user-friendly summaries, and the Health Technology Assessment Database provides access to structured scientific abstracts
  What is in it?
  • Systematic reviews that address questions about the impacts of clinical, health service/system and public/population health interventions, as well as health technology assessments (many of which will contain a systematic review)
  How can it be searched?
  • Search the entire CochraneLibrary or (separately) one of its three most relevant constituent databases
     - Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (systematic reviews of impacts produced by members of the Cochrane Collaboration according to defined standards)
     - DARE (systematic reviews of impacts with no restriction on who produced them): Note that the most up-to-date version of this database can be searched separately and that most reviews have a user-friendly summary prepared by the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination
     - HealthTechnologyAssessmentDatabase (health technology assessments, which may contain a systematic review): Note that the most up-to-date version of this database can be searched separately and that most reviews have a summary of the HTA's objective prepared by the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination and a link to the full text (which typically does not require a subscription or access fee)
  What resources are provided for search results?
  • A user-friendly summary that highlights decision-relevant information for all reviews in DARE (with some time delay depending on staff workload)
  • A lay summary for all Cochrane reviews
  • A scientific abstract for all Cochrane reviews
  • Link(s) to the full text for all Cochrane reviews (requires a subscription or access fee)
PubMed/MEDLINE Features
  • Accessible online at no cost
  • Contains many types of health-focused studies, not just systematic reviews. A hedge is available to find systematic reviews (including Cochrane reviews)
  • Contains only peer-reviewed articles (i.e. no grey literature)
  • Provides links to scientific abstracts only
  What is in it?
  • Both studies and systematic reviews that address any type of question that may be addressed in the biomedical, clinical, health service/system and public/population health literature
  How can it be searched?
  • Combine content terms AND terms that will yield systematic reviews, with the terms selected here designed to balance the sensitivity and specificity of a search (emphasising specificity over sensitivity) [19]
     - Cochrane Database Syst Rev [TA] OR search [Title/Abstract] OR meta-analysis [Publication Type] OR MEDLINE [Title/Abstract] OR (systematic [Title/Abstract] AND review [Title/Abstract])
  • Possibly also combine with terms that will identify systematic reviews and studies focused on particular jurisdictions or regions (e.g. low- and middle-income countries) - See Additional File 3
  What resources are provided for search results?
  • A scientific abstract (if available)
  • Link(s) to the full text (which may require a subscription or an access fee)
  Notes
  • There are versions of MEDLINE that require a subscription (e.g. OVID/MEDLINE)
  • PubMed contains many types of health-focused studies, not just studies of impacts, and hedges are available for many types of studies