Appraisal of: Mathes T, Walgenbach M, Antoine SL, Pieper D, Eikermann M. Methods for systematic reviews of health economic evaluations: a systematic review, comparison, and synthesis of method literature. Med Decis Making. 2014 Oct;34(7):826-40.

Short description: 

The authors compare existing methods and suggest best practices for the preparation of systematic reviews of health economic evaluations (SR-HE). While most of this review falls outside the realm of information retrieval, one section summarizes the existing methods used in conducting literature searches for SR-HEs. The authors found that many steps in the SR-HE process have unjustifiable divergences, but that the literature search and selection are the steps with the most concordance. Best practices for literature searching include searches of MEDLINE and Embase, plus one health economics database (recommended are NHS EED or HEED). A systematic search strategy should be employed using relevant PICO elements combined with an economic evaluation search filter. Search strategies should be adapted to different databases, especially regarding the indexing and classifications of economic studies within each database. 

Limitations stated by the author(s): 

Since the authors searched specifically for papers that refer to SR-HEs, other relevant papers, such as those that refer to quantifying input values for economic evaluations, may have been missed. The authors note thusly that they could not identify all the relevant literature that could be applicable to SR-HEs. Also, the authors note that their best practice suggestions should only be considered as a framework due to the vague or general descriptions of methods found in some publications and because of discrepancies between the publications included in this study.

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