Appraisal of: Royle P, Waugh N. Literature searching for clinical and cost-effectiveness studies used inhealth technology assessment reports carried out for the National Institute for Clinical Excellence appraisal system. Health Technol Assess 2003;7(34).

Short description: 
This study assessed a sample of 20 NICE technology assessment reports (TARs) to assess optimum literature retrieval strategies for identifying clinical and cost-effectiveness studies using relative recall methods. All sources searched for the TARs were identified and 130 included cost-effectiveness studies were identified. The presence of the included studies within sources was recorded. 73.1% of studies were published and 1.5% were abstracts. 86.6% of those published/abstract studies were indexed in MEDLINE, 86.6% in Embase and 40.2% in NHS EED. Searching SCI and ASCO Online in addition increased retrieval of published studies to 97.9%. Searching non-database sources an identify further studies: 25% of the included studies were ‘unpublished’ or grey literature.
Limitations stated by the author(s): 
The number of TARs assessed was small and may be biased by the large number of cancer topics. Most of the key measurement decisions were made by only one reviewer. The descriptions of study designs and search accuracy were accepted uncritically. The effect of the harder to find studies on the effect size was not assessed. The search strategies were not assessed for relevance and fitness for purpose: their quality is unknown. The TARs may not be generalisable to the future TAR programme in terms of subject focus.
Limitations stated by the reviewer(s): 
The study was conducted on reviews published in 2000-2002. The relative recall approach adopted gives an assessment of the relative yield of databases and their overlap with a perfect search strategy. The study did not rerun TAR search strategies to investigate how many of the studies which are available to be found, would have been found by the strategies used.
Study Type: 
Single study
Related Chapters: