Objectives: Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effectiveness (DARE) (http:@www.york.ac.uk/inst/crd/) at the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination provides a unique international resource of structured summaries of quality-assessed reviews of health care interventions. These reviews have been identified from searches of electronic databases and by hand-searching journals. This paper describes and summarizes the DARE database, including the topic areas covered and the review methods used.
Methods: The first 480 structured abstracts on the DARE database were summarized. Data were extracted from each database field and coded for analysis.
Results: Most of the systematic reviews investigated the effectiveness of treatments: 54% investigated the effectiveness of medical therapies, and 10% assessed surgical interventions. Around two-thirds used meta-analytic methods to combine primary studies. The quality of the reviews was variable, with just over half of the reviews (52%, n = 251) having systematically assessed the validity of the included primary studies. Narrative reviews were more likely than meta-analyses to reach negative conclusions (42% vs. 25%, p = .0001). The 21 reviews that reported drug company funding were more likely to reach positive conclusions (81% vs. 66%, p = .15).
Conclusion: The DARE database is a valuable source of quality-assessed systematic reviews, and is free and easily accessible. It provides a valuable online resource to help in filtering out poorer quality reviews when assessing the effectiveness of health technologies.