Optimized retrieval of primary care clinical prediction rules from MEDLINE to establish a Web-based register

J Clin Epidemiol. 2011 Aug;64(8):848-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2010.11.011. Epub 2011 Mar 16.


Objectives: Identifying clinical prediction rules (CPRs) for primary care from electronic databases is difficult. This study aims to identify a search filter to optimize retrieval of these to establish a register of CPRs for the Cochrane Primary Health Care field.

Study design and setting: Thirty primary care journals were manually searched for CPRs. This was compared with electronic search filters using alternative methodologies: (1) textword searching; (2) proximity searching; (3) inclusion terms using specific phrases and truncation; (4) exclusion terms; and (5) combinations of methodologies.

Results: We manually searched 6,344 articles, revealing 41 CPRs. Across the 45 search filters, sensitivities ranged from 12% to 98%, whereas specificities ranged from 43% to 100%. There was generally a trade-off between the sensitivity and specificity of each filter (i.e., the number of CPRs and total number of articles retrieved). Combining textword searching with the inclusion terms (using specific phrases) resulted in the highest sensitivity (98%) but lower specificity (59%) than other methods. The associated precision (2%) and accuracy (60%) were also low.

Conclusion: The novel use of combining textword searching with inclusion terms was considered the most appropriate for updating a register of primary care CPRs where sensitivity has to be optimized.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abstracting and Indexing
  • Databases, Bibliographic / standards
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / methods
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / standards*
  • MEDLINE / standards*
  • Primary Health Care
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Subject Headings