Appraisal of: Wood H, Arber M, Glanville JM. Systematic reviews of economic evaluations: how extensive are their searches? Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2017 Mar 27:1-7.

Short description: 

This study evaluated the search methodology of recent systematic reviews of economic evaluations. A sample of 42 reviews identified through a MEDLINE search was analyzed. The analysis included: databases searched (general & specialist), health technology assessment sources searched, and supplementary search techniques used. The search approaches used in the systematic reviews were compared to two current recommendations: 1) the minimum search resources from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) economic search requirements for single technology appraisals; 2) the resources recommended in the costs and economic evaluation chapter of SuRe Info. A majority (55%) of the reviews did not meet either the NICE or SuRe Info recommendations. The data collection was hindered by lack of clarity and errors in search methodology reporting within the systematic reviews. It is likely that current recommendations on searching for economic evaluations will change due to the recent closure of two specialized databases (NHS EED & HEED). 

Limitations stated by the author(s): 

The sample of systematic reviews was pragmatic and limited to papers which were freely available or available through the authors' subscription access. Additionally, the sample was limited to English language systematic reviews only. Reviews were determined to be systematic reviews if the review authors identified them as such; however, it is possible that the review authors may have mislabeled narrative reviews as systematic.  Because of lack of clarity in search methodology reporting, reviews that vaguely mentioned searching "The Cochrane Library" were assumed to have searched all databases contained by this resource, which may have overestimated the use of the NHS EED and HTA databases.

Limitations stated by the reviewer(s): 
No additional limitations detected by the reviewers.
Study Type: 
Single study