Objectives: Health technology assessment (HTA) agencies assessing the cost-effectiveness of healthcare technologies seek evidence from economic evaluations. As well as searching economic evaluation databases, researchers often search MEDLINE and EMBASE, using search filters whose current performance is unclear. We assessed the performance of search filters in identifying economic evaluations from MEDLINE and EMBASE.
Methods: A gold standard of economic evaluations was compiled from National Health Service Economic Evaluation Database (NHS EED) records for 2000, 2003, and 2006. Corresponding records were retrieved in MEDLINE and EMBASE. Search filters were identified from the InterTASC Information Specialists' SubGroup Web site and from Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) Information Services. The sensitivity and precision of search filters in retrieving gold standard records from MEDLINE and EMBASE were tested.
Results: A total of 2,070 full economic evaluations were identified from NHS EED. Of these, 1,955 records were available in Ovid MEDLINE and 1,873 were available in Ovid EMBASE. Thirteen MEDLINE and eight EMBASE filters were identified. NHS Quality Improvement Scotland (full and brief filters), the NHS EED and Royle and Waugh filters achieved over 0.99 sensitivity in MEDLINE. NHS Quality Improvement Scotland, CADTH, Royle and Waugh, and NHS EED filters achieved greater than 0.99 sensitivity in EMBASE. Filters demonstrated low precision.
Conclusions: This research provided new performance data on search filters to identify economic evaluations in MEDLINE and EMBASE. It demonstrated that highly sensitive economic evaluation filters are available, but that precision is low, yielding perhaps 5 relevant records per 100 records scanned.