The development of search filters for adverse effects of surgical interventions in medline and Embase

Su Golder, Kath Wright, Yoon Kong Loke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Search filter development for adverse effects has tended to focus on retrieving studies of drug interventions. However, a different approach is required for surgical interventions.

Objective: To develop and validate search filters for medline and Embase for the adverse effects of surgical interventions.

Methods: Systematic reviews of surgical interventions where the primary focus was to evaluate adverse effect(s) were sought. The included studies within these reviews were divided randomly into a development set, evaluation set and validation set. Using word frequency analysis we constructed a sensitivity maximising search strategy and this was tested in the evaluation and validation set.

Results: Three hundred and fifty eight papers were included from 19 surgical intervention reviews. Three hundred and fifty two papers were available on medline and 348 were available on Embase. Generic adverse effects search strategies in medline and Embase could achieve approximately 90% relative recall. Recall could be further improved with the addition of specific adverse effects terms to the search strategies.

Conclusion: We have derived and validated a novel search filter that has reasonable performance for identifying adverse effects of surgical interventions in medline and Embase. However, we appreciate the limitations of our methods, and recommend further research on larger sample sizes and prospective systematic reviews.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-129
JournalHealth Information and Libraries Journal
Issue number2
Early online date31 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • information retrieval
  • literature searching
  • medical subject headings (MeSH)
  • meta analysis
  • methodological filters
  • review
  • systematic
  • search strategies
  • searching

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