Appraisal of: Golder S, Wright K, Rodgers M. The contribution of different information sources to identify adverse effects of a medical device: a case study using a systematic review of spinal fusion. Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2014;30(14):1-7.

Short description: 

The included studies from a systematic review of the safety of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 (rhBMP-2) for spinal fusion were used for analysis. For each study, it was investigated in whichc sources they were available and where they were identified. If a study was available on a database but not retrieved by the original search strategy, the bibliographic record was examined to determine why it was not retrieved. The sensitivity, precision, and numbers needed to read for searches in each of the databases was calculated, as well as sensitivity*precision. The minimum combination of sources required to identify all the included publications using the original search strategies used was recorded.

The minimum combination of sources to identify all the publications was Science Citation Index (SCI), Embase, CENTRAL and either MEDLINE or PubMed, in addition to reference checking, contacting authors and using automated current awareness service.

The highest precision was achieved in CENTRAL, followed by ToxFile and MEDLINE. The highest sensitivity*precision was achieved by MEDLINE, followed by CENTRAL and Science Citation Index.

Limitations stated by the author(s): 

The main limitation of this study is that relatively few sources were searched in the original systematic review, meaning that only a few resources could be compared for their relative value in providing relevant data.

Also, as the analysis is only based on one case study systematic review, the generalisability of the results is limited.

In addition, the authors were able to obtain unpublished data directly from the manufacturer. They also included an unusually high number of conference abstracts and multiple publications for the same study in their review. This might have influenced the findings of this study.

This case study is also of a medical device with a pharmaceutical component, while a case study of a different kind of a medical device might have given different results.


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