The development of search filters for adverse effects of medical devices in medline and embase

Su Golder, Kelly Farrah, Monika Mierzwinski-Urban, Kath Wright, Yoon Kong Loke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Objectively derived search filters for adverse drug effects and complications in surgery have been developed but not for medical device adverse effects. Objective: To develop and validate search filters to retrieve evidence on medical device adverse effects from ovid medline and embase. Methods: We identified systematic reviews from Epistemonikos and the Health Technology Assessment (hta) database. Included studies within these reviews that reported on medical device adverse effects were randomly divided into three test sets and one validation set of records. Using word frequency analysis from one test set, we constructed a sensitivity maximising search strategy. This strategy was refined using two other test sets, then validated. Results: From 186 systematic reviews which met our inclusion criteria, 1984 unique included studies were available from medline and 1986 from embase. Generic adverse effects searches in medline and embase achieved 84% and 83% sensitivity. Recall was improved to over 90%, however, when specific adverse effects terms were added. Conclusion: We have derived and validated novel search filters that retrieve over 80% of records with medical device adverse effects data in medline and embase. The addition of specific adverse effects terms is required to achieve higher levels of sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-263
JournalHealth Information and Libraries Journal
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019


  • embase
  • information retrieval
  • literature searching
  • medical devices
  • medical subject headings (MeSH)
  • medline
  • meta-analysis
  • methodological filters
  • review
  • search strategies
  • searching

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