Quality of search strategies reported in systematic reviews published in stereotactic radiosurgery Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE:Systematic reviews require comprehensive literature search strategies to avoid publication bias. This study aimed to assess and evaluate the reporting quality of search strategies within systematic reviews published in the field of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). METHODS:Three electronic databases (Ovid MEDLINE(®), Ovid EMBASE(®) and the Cochrane Library) were searched to identify systematic reviews addressing SRS interventions, with the last search performed in October 2014. Manual searches of the reference lists of included systematic reviews were conducted. The search strategies of the included systematic reviews were assessed using a standardized nine-question form based on the Cochrane Collaboration guidelines and Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews checklist. Multiple linear regression analyses were performed to identify the important predictors of search quality. RESULTS:A total of 85 systematic reviews were included. The median quality score of search strategies was 2 (interquartile range = 2). Whilst 89% of systematic reviews reported the use of search terms, only 14% of systematic reviews reported searching the grey literature. Multiple linear regression analyses identified publication year (continuous variable), meta-analysis performance and journal impact factor (continuous variable) as predictors of higher mean quality scores. CONCLUSION:This study identified the urgent need to improve the quality of search strategies within systematic reviews published in the field of SRS. ADVANCES IN KNOWLEDGE:This study is the first to address how authors performed searches to select clinical studies for inclusion in their systematic reviews. Comprehensive and well-implemented search strategies are pivotal to reduce the chance of publication bias and consequently generate more reliable systematic review findings.

publication date

  • 2016