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J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2006 Sep-Oct;13(5):485-7. Epub 2006 Jun 23.

Improving efficacy of PubMed Clinical Queries for retrieving scientifically strong studies on treatment.

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Biomedical Department of Internal Medicine, Piazza delle Cliniche 2, 90127 Palermo, Italy.


The authors evaluated the retrieval power of PubMed "Clinical Queries," narrow search string, about therapy in comparison with a modified search string to avoid possible retrieval bias. PubMed search strategy was compared to a slightly modified string that included the Britannic English term "randomised." The authors tested the two strings joined onto each of four terms concerning topics of broad interest: hypertension, hepatitis, diabetes, and heart failure. In particular, precision was computed for not-indexed citations. The added word "randomised" improved total citation retrieval in any case. Total retrieval gain for not-indexed citations ranged from 11.1% to 21.4%. A significant number of Randomized Controlled Trial(s) (RCT)s (9.1-18.2%) was retrieved for each of the selected topics. They were often recently published RCTs. The authors think that correction of the Clinical Queries filter (when they focus on therapy and use narrow searches) is necessary to avoid biased search results with loss of relevant and up-to-date scientifically sound information.

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