The ISSG Search Filter Resource: improving the efficiency and quality of searches for studies for systematic reviews

Date & Time
Wednesday, September 6, 2023, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Location Name
Session Type
Information retrieval
Manson P1, Glanville J2, Lefebvre C3, Brbre I4, Robinson S5
1Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen, UK
2Independent Consultant,, UK
3Independent Information Consultant, Lefebvre Associates Ltd, UK
4Information Scientist, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, UK
5Information Specialist, PenTAG/HS&DR, ESMI, University of Exeter, UK

Context: Well-conducted systematic reviews (SRs) that offer a rigorous summary of the available evidence are crucial to the provision of evidence-based healthcare. Search filters can make a significant impact on the efficiency and quality of searches for SRs. The ISSG Search Filter Resource (SFR) was created by the Information Specialists’ Sub-Group of InterTASC, the Technology Appraisal Groups providing health technology assessments to the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The SFR is a free-to-access portal for methodological and related search filters. To populate the site, searches to identify eligible filters are conducted monthly in databases, tables of contents and current awareness services. Potential filters are evaluated by the Editorial Team before being added to the site. Content: The SFR currently includes the following:
• bibliographic references to methodological search filters for a range of topics including SRs;
• bibliographic references to filters for specific age and ethnic groups, geographic areas and genders;
• independently created abstracts and structured critical appraisals for some filters;
• references to research on the design, development and use of filters, including studies reporting comparative data from independent testing of filters; and
• links to filter collections from other organisations. The SFR is continually being developed to maintain its utility and relevance. Recent innovations adding value include the following:
• links to launch filters directly into Ovid and PubMed;
• links to comments, errata and retractions; and
• highlighting comparative performance data visually. From the Cochrane perspective, the SFR provides access to filters for randomized and nonrandomized trials, safety studies/adverse effects, diagnostic test accuracy studies and studies of prognosis.
Conclusions: Using the SFR can provide quick access to search filters which can in turn save time and effort when designing searches for SRs and other evidence syntheses that will directly affect health care. The SFR achieves the following:
• improves awareness of existing methodological search filters;
• reduces duplication of effort in methodological search filter design; and
• provides a forum for critical appraisal of methodological search filters. Feedback on the site is welcome, including information about filters not currently listed. Visit: Twitter: @ISSG_Filters