Background: Previous evaluations showed that literature-search and selection methods reported in dental systematic reviews (SR) have improved since 2000. It is not known, however, whether these differences are consistent between the SR of the different dental specialities.
Methods: SR in dentistry published in the English language between 1 January 2000 and 14 June 2006 were located and then categorised by American Dental Association (ADA) recognised specialities. Search and selection methods were evaluated following an adaptation of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews. Search and selection methods between dental specialities were compared using Pearson's chi-squared analysis and ranked.
Results: There were significant differences between specialities in the following criteria: documentation of search dates (P 0.003); inclusion-exclusion documentation (P 0.017); article selection by two or more reviewers (P 0.001); and inclusion of all languages (P 0.014). Periodontics SR met the most criteria followed by oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMS) and then dental public heath (DPH). Prosthodontics along with the area of oral and maxillofacial radiology (OMR) met the fewest. All dental SR had low compliance with four criteria, only 65.7% searched more than Medline, 50.4% had a search strategy documented with Boolean operators, 51.5% had article selection carried out by two or more reviewers and only 25.7% included all languages.
Conclusions: Some dental specialities are better at reporting search and selection methods than others but all dental SR need some improvement in their reporting.