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J Clin Epidemiol. 2015 Apr;68(4):412-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2014.10.008. Epub 2014 Dec 29.

Citation searches are more sensitive than keyword searches to identify studies using specific measurement instruments.

Author information

1
Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Sealy Center on Aging, The University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Blvd, Galveston, TX 77555-0177, USA.
2
Department of Health Services Research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1400 Pressler St, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
3
Research Medical Library, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1400 Pressler St, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
4
Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Sealy Center on Aging, The University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Blvd, Galveston, TX 77555-0177, USA. Electronic address: bvolk@mdanderson.org.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To compare the effectiveness of two search methods in identifying studies that used the Control Preferences Scale (CPS), a health care decision-making instrument commonly used in clinical settings.

STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING:

We searched the literature using two methods: (1) keyword searching using variations of "Control Preferences Scale" and (2) cited reference searching using two seminal CPS publications. We searched three bibliographic databases [PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science (WOS)] and one full-text database (Google Scholar). We report precision and sensitivity as measures of effectiveness.

RESULTS:

Keyword searches in bibliographic databases yielded high average precision (90%) but low average sensitivity (16%). PubMed was the most precise, followed closely by Scopus and WOS. The Google Scholar keyword search had low precision (54%) but provided the highest sensitivity (70%). Cited reference searches in all databases yielded moderate sensitivity (45-54%), but precision ranged from 35% to 75% with Scopus being the most precise.

CONCLUSION:

Cited reference searches were more sensitive than keyword searches, making it a more comprehensive strategy to identify all studies that use a particular instrument. Keyword searches provide a quick way of finding some but not all relevant articles. Goals, time, and resources should dictate the combination of which methods and databases are used.

KEYWORDS:

Information sources; Instruments; Meta-analyses; Methodology; Search methods; Systematic reviews

PMID:
25554521
PMCID:
PMC4593621
DOI:
10.1016/j.jclinepi.2014.10.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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