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Maja Kärrman Fredriksson, Hanna Olofsson


SBU Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Assessment of Social Services, Sweden



SBU produces evidence maps of systematic reviews on topics relevant to health care and social services. The literature is identified by searches in various bibliographic databases. Over the last years new databases that register systematic reviews have been introduced, for example Epistemonikos and KSR Evidence.

We wanted to investigate whether searching these two databases could be useful in producing SBU Evidence Maps. To answer this, we asked whether the systematic reviews included in the last six SBU Evidence Maps:

  1. were registered in Epistemonikos and KSR Evidence?
  2. could be identified with structured searches?


36 systematic reviews included in the six latest published SBU Evidence maps were used as a gold standard for this evaluation. The evidence maps were published 2016-2019 and covered the following topics:

  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Social assistance
  • Collaborative care for persons with mental illness
  • Assistive technology for elderly
  • Methods used in forensic psychiatry
  • Drug treatment for children with respiratory tract infections

Methods for evaluating database coverage

References to all 36 systematic reviews were saved in excel. For each systematic review, a title search was performed in both databases. The aim was to see if the references were registered in each respective database.

Methods for evaluating search functionality

A subject search per evidence map/research question was performed in both Epistemonikos and KSR Evidence. All searches were based on the original search. All hits from each of the databases were exported into EndNote and grouped by the evidence map in question. Finally, title searches for all included systematic reviews were performed in EndNote. This showed if each systematic review was found by either the subject search in KSR Evidence or the subject search in Epistemonikos, or by both database searches.

Preliminary results

Results of database coverage

Of the 36 systematic reviews sought, 34 were registered in KSR Evidence and 35 were registered in Epistemonikos.

Results of searches

Of the 36 systematic reviews that were sought, 20 were identified by subject searches in KSR Evidence and 16 in Epistemonikos.

The search results on the topics collaborative care and substance abuse disorders contained the highest number of matches, while search results for social assistance and respiratory tract infection had the lowest numbers. Our search topics extended into both social services and health care, which might explain why none of the reviews on social assistance were retrieved. More unexpectedly, none of the systematic reviews on respiratory tract infections- a clearly medical topic- were found via the subject search.


The main aim of this study was to see whether Epistemonikos and KSR Evidence could be useful in the production of SBU Evidence Maps. Even though most of the target systematic reviews were registered in both databases, the subject searches found rather few of them. This implies that either the search strings were not optimal, or that the databases are not suited for exhaustive searches within complex topics. We will continue to evaluate the databases.


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