Appraisal of: "Luhnen M, Prediger B, Neugebauer EAM, Mathes T. Systematic reviews of economic evaluations in health technology assessment: a review of characteristics and applied methods. Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2018(34);6:537–546."

Short description: 

The review investigates the literature searches used in 83 systematic reviews of economic evaluations. A median of 4 electronic databases were searched (range: 1 - 14). The systematic reviewers searched general medical databases (MEDLINE and Embase) and 60% of the reviews also searched specific economic evaluation and health technology assessment databases. In terms of the search strategies Luhnen et al report that economic terms were included in 55% of the literature searches and only 7% reported using a search filter.  48% of reports developed their own Boolean search string with economic evaluations. The authors also state that ‘in most reports’ a limitation was applied such as English language. Additional searches were also reported for online searches (49%), although this was not described further, and reference lists (63%).

Limitations stated by the author(s): 

The study authors highlighted that their definition of a health technology assessment was quite broad but therefore should be inclusive. The authors noted that they may have included reports which were not explicitly intended to be systematic reviews of economic evaluations. Not all data were extracted in duplicate so there may be some errors as a result.

Limitations stated by the reviewer(s): 
The authors stated that 55% of the searches included economic terms. We suspect that some of the other 45% of the searches were in economic databases where economic search terms would not be required. No further details were provided to explain what ‘online searches’ might be.
Study Type: 
Review