Effectiveness of adverse effects search filters: drugs versus medical devices
Keywords:Information Storage and Retrieval, Controlled Vocabulary, Bibliographic Databases, Sensitivity and Specificity, Equipment and Supplies
Objective: The study tested the performance of adverse effects search filters when searching for safety information on medical devices, procedures, and diagnostic tests in MEDLINE and Embase.
Methods: The sensitivity of 3 filters was determined using a sample of 631 references from 131 rapid reviews related to the safety of health technologies. The references were divided into 2 sets by type of intervention: drugs and nondrug health technologies. Keyword and indexing analysis were performed on references from the nondrug testing set that 1 or more of the filters did not retrieve.
Results: For all 3 filters, sensitivity was lower for nondrug health technologies (ranging from 53%– 87%) than for drugs (88%–93%) in both databases. When tested on the nondrug health technologies set, sensitivity was lower in Embase (ranging from 53%–81%) than in MEDLINE (67%–87%) for all filters. Of the nondrug records that 1 or more of the filters missed, 39% of the missed MEDLINE records and 18% of the missed Embase records did not contain any indexing terms related to adverse events. Analyzing the titles and abstracts of nondrug records that were missed by any 1 filter, the most commonly used keywords related to adverse effects were: risk, complications, mortality, contamination, hemorrhage, and failure.
Conclusions: In this study, adverse effects filters were less effective at finding information about the safety of medical devices, procedures, and tests compared to information about the safety of drugs.