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Therese Svanberg, Ida Stadig


Medical Library, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden



Literature searching and abstract screening for systematic reviews are time consuming tasks. The more databases searched during a particular systematic review, the more time consuming that part of the work becomes. The fewer databases searched, the larger the risk becomes of missing important articles. Is there data to assist in determining how many databases are enough – and which of them to choose? The medical libraries at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden, have performed systematic literature searches for the regional Health Technology Assessment centre since 2007. The number and scope of databases used has varied due to the topic of the assessment and also what database subscriptions the library held at the time of the review work. In a previous investigation1, we looked at included articles per database in reports published 2014 through 2016, a data set which was small but gave some interesting results. We have now extended the investigation to all reports published 2011 through 2019, to produce an insight into which databases produce unique results and need to be included and which mostly overlap with others – an insight that can aid in selecting which databases to always use and which, if any, might be omitted with low risk. Methods

Reports published in 2011-2019 have been reviewed to see which databases were used, number of included articles in each report and which databases contained unique articles not found in any of the others. Screening of reference lists of relevant articles is also done in each report, that screening was treated as the equivalent of a database – does it provide additional articles not found elsewhere?


The number of included articles range from 3 to 70. Databases used include PubMed, Medline (OvidSP), Embase (OvidSP), Amed, CINAHL, PsycInfo (all Ebsco) and the Cochrane Library. The number of unique articles retrieved from each database will be provided when the review is finished. Conclusion: Previous evaluations of databases were too small to give a reliable answer as to what databases to continue searching. This review will be able to provide a better idea of where to search for literature for health technology assessments. Where should we spend our time and money?


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