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CERs and Systematic Reviews   Tags: health_sciences, public health, thl  

Information on comparative effectiveness research & systematic reviews.
Last Updated: Apr 21, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Comparative Effectiveness Research & Resources

Guidelines & Best Practices

CER Definition

Comparative effectiveness research is designed to inform health-care decisions by providing evidence on the effectiveness, benefits, and harms of different treatment options. The evidence is generated from research studies that compare drugs, medical devices, tests, surgeries, or ways to deliver health care. (AHRQ,

Systematic Review Definition

A systematic review is a critical assessment and evaluation of all research studies that address a particular clinical issue. The researchers use an organized method of locating, assembling, and evaluating a body of literature on a particular topic using a set of specific criteria. A systematic review typically includes a description of the findings of the collection of research studies. The systematic review may also include a quantitative pooling of data, called a meta-analysis. (AHRQ,

Systematic Reviews

Systematic Approaches to Searching the Health Sciences Literature

Tutorials from the Yale Medical Library that demonstrate how to search the health science literature in a systematic manner to create a comprehensive, methodical, transparent, & reproducible search, so that your conclusions are as unbiased & close to the truth as possible.

  • 1. Introduction
    Introduces the concept of "systematic review" & compares a search done for a systematic review & an ordinary literature search.
  • 2. Conducting a systematic review
    Shows the typical process of a systematic review, & where searching fits in the big picture.
  • 3. Preparing for a Systematic Search
    Demonstrates a number of tasks reviewers usually do before performing a full-scale systematic search.
  • 4. Building Search Strategies (Part I)
    The first in a series of videos that demonstrate how to build good search strategies in databases (with PubMed as the example), using basic concepts in searching, such as controlled vocabularies.
  • 5. Building Search Strategies (Part II)
    Continues to introduce basic concepts in building searching strategies, such as free-text (natural language) searching, phrase searching, truncation, Boolean logic, and limits, using PubMed as the database.
  • 6. Building Search Strategies (Part III)
    Continues to demonstrate in MEDLINE (Ovid) the basic concepts in building searching strategies. It also introduces Ovid's unique command line query syntax & a number of search features not available in PubMed, such as wildcard & adjacency/proximity searching.
  • 7. Building Search Strategies (Part IV)
    Demonstrates in MEDLINE (Ovid) the basic concepts in building search strategies, in particular, proximity searches, frequency searches, Boolean operators, & the various limit options.
  • 8. Systematic Searches #8: Building Search Strategies (Part V)
    How to search databases that don't use a controlled vocabulary, such as Web of Science and Scopus.
  • 9. Using Filters and Hedges
    Filters & hedges are prefabricated search strategies that can help you quickly search databases for articles on certain topics or those with certain study designs.
  • 10. Finding Grey Literature
    An exhaustive literature search, especially one that leads to a systematic review, needs to include searches in gray literature, to minimize publication or reporting bias.
  • 11. Validating, Verifying & Revising Your Searches
    A systematic search is an iterative one. you need to constantly evaluate, validate, or verify our search results, & revise and re-run the searches if necessary.


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