How to Improve Your Search Results on Medline

There’s an interesting paper by Agoritsas and colleagues which is freely available here. If you try to search for a paper on Medline the most basic strategy is to type in a few relevant terms into the search box. Say you’re looking for Dementia treatments then you could just type in ‘Dementia treatments’. When you do this you’ll get a lot of results. Not all of them will be relevant to your specific question.

There are various ways to refine the search. For instance you can type in the terms, perform a search and then select the ‘related terms’ that Medline returns. There are numerous variations which are detailed in the paper. With so many search strategies to choose from – how do you decide?

The authors of this paper have come up with an ingenious approach. They identify Cochrane reviews investigating specific clinical questions. These serve as the gold standards of search for the purpose of the study. Then the authors tested 15 search strategies on the clinical questions. They looked at their results and compared them with those in the reviews. By using this approach they were able to calculate the sensitivity and positive predictive value of the search strategies.

The approach is novel and useful and the results are interesting. This is well worth a look and can provide the inspiration for others wanting to further investigate search strategies in Medline.

Index: There are indices for the TAWOP site here and here Twitter: You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link. Podcast: You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast). It is available for a limited period. TAWOP Channel: You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link. Responses: If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail Disclaimer: The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.


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