Search filters

Search filters are pre-tested strategies that identify the higher quality evidence from the vast amounts of literature indexed in the major medical databases. Filters exist for most types of experimental design, and are comprised of index terms relating to study type and specific terms associated with the methodological description of good experimental design.

The search filters used by SIGN are developed in-house or are created by other research organisations and adapted to meet SIGN information needs. SIGN's filters may provide less sensitive searches than used by other systematic reviewers such as The Cochrane Collaboration, but enable the retrieval of medical studies that are most likely to match SIGN's methodological criteria.

SIGN has devised suitable strategies for running each search filter in Ovid implementations of Medline, Embase and CINAHL along with other more specialised databases. The following is an explanation of some of the search devices commonly used in SIGN filters:

/ after an index term indicates that all subheadings were selected.
* before an index term indicates that that term was focused - i.e. limited to records where the term was a major MeSH/Emtree term.
"exp" before an index term indicates that the term was exploded.
.tw. indicates a search for a term in title/abstract
.mp. indicates a free text search for a term
.pt. indicates a search for a publication type
$ at the end of a term indicates that this term has been truncated.
? in the middle of a term indicates the use of a wildcard.
adj indicates a search for two terms where they appear adjacent to one another

Systematic Reviews

The search filter used by SIGN to retrieve systematic reviews is an adaptation of the systematic reviews filter designed by the Health Information Research Unit of the McMaster University, Ontario. The systematic reviews filter emphasises specificity rather than sensitivity.

Medline

1. Meta-Analysis as Topic/
2. meta analy$.tw.
3. metaanaly$.tw.
4. Meta-Analysis/
5. (systematic adj (review$1 or overview$1)).tw.
6. exp Review Literature as Topic/
7. or/1-6
8. cochrane.ab.
9. embase.ab.
10. (psychlit or psyclit).ab.
11. (psychinfo or psycinfo).ab.
12. (cinahl or cinhal).ab.
13. science citation index.ab.
14. bids.ab.
15. cancerlit.ab.
16. or/8-15
17. reference list$.ab.
18. bibliograph$.ab.
19. hand-search$.ab.
20. relevant journals.ab.
21. manual search$.ab.
22. or/17-21
23. selection criteria.ab.
24. data extraction.ab.
25. 23 or 24
26. Review/
27. 25 and 26
28. Comment/
29. Letter/
30. Editorial/
31. animal/
32. human/
33. 31 not (31 and 32)
34. or/28-30,33
35. 7 or 16 or 22 or 27
36. 35 not 34

Embase

1. exp Meta Analysis/
2. ((meta adj analy$) or metaanalys$).tw.
3. (systematic adj (review$1 or overview$1)).tw.
4. or/1-3
5. cancerlit.ab.
6. cochrane.ab.
7. embase.ab.
8. (psychlit or psyclit).ab.
9. (psychinfo or psycinfo).ab.
10. (cinahl or cinhal).ab.
11. science citation index.ab.
12. bids.ab.
13. or/5-12
14. reference lists.ab.
15. bibliograph$.ab.
16. hand-search$.ab.
17. manual search$.ab.
18. relevant journals.ab.
19. or/14-18
20. data extraction.ab.
21. selection criteria.ab.
22. 20 or 21
23. review.pt.
24. 22 and 23
25. letter.pt.
26. editorial.pt.
27. animal/
28. human/
29. 27 not (27 and 28)
30. or/25-26,29
31. 4 or 13 or 19 or 24
32. 31 not 30

CINAHL

1 Meta analysis/
2 Meta analys$.tw.
3 Metaanaly$.tw.
4 exp Literature review/
5 (systematic adj (review or overview)).tw.
6 Or/1-5
7 Commentary.pt.
8 Letter.pt.
9 Editorial.pt.
10 Animals/
11 Or/7-10
12 6 not 11

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Randomised Controlled Trials

The search filter used by SIGN to retrieve randomised controlled trials has been adapted from the first two sections of strategy designed by the Cochrane Collaboration identifying RCTs for systematic review.

Medline

1

 Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic/

2

 randomized controlled trial/

3

 Random Allocation/

4

 Double Blind Method/

5

 Single Blind Method/

6

 clinical trial/

7

 clinical trial, phase i.pt

8

 clinical trial, phase ii.pt

9

 clinical trial, phase iii.pt

10

 clinical trial, phase iv.pt

11

 controlled clinical trial.pt

12

 randomized controlled trial.pt

13

 multicenter study.pt

14

 clinical trial.pt

15

 exp Clinical Trials as topic/

16

 or/1-15

17

 (clinical adj trial$).tw

18

 ((singl$ or doubl$ or treb$ or tripl$) adj (blind$3 or mask$3)).tw

19

 PLACEBOS/

20

 placebo$.tw

21

 randomly allocated.tw

22

 (allocated adj2 random$).tw

23

 or/17-22

24

 16 or 23

25

 case report.tw

26

 letter/

27

 historical article/

28

 or/25-27

29

 24 not 28

Embase

1 Clinical trial/
2 Randomized controlled trial/
3 Randomization/
4 Single blind procedure/
5 Double blind procedure/
6 Crossover procedure/
7 Placebo/
8 Randomi?ed controlled trial$.tw.
9 Rct.tw.
10 Random allocation.tw.
11 Randomly allocated.tw.
12 Allocated randomly.tw.
13 (allocated adj2 random).tw.
14 Single blind$.tw.
15 Double blind$.tw.
16 ((treble or triple) adj (blind$).tw.
17 Placebo$.tw.
18 Prospective study/
19 Or/1-18
20 Case study/
21 Case report.tw.
22 Abstract report/ or letter/
23 Or/20-22
24 19 not 23

CINAHL for EBSCO (created by Mark Clowes)

#

Query

S12

S1 or S2 or S3 or S4 or S5 or S6 or S7 or S8 or S9 or S10 or S11

S11

TX allocat* random*

S10

(MH "Quantitative Studies")

S9

(MH "Placebos")

S8

TX placebo*

S7

TX random* allocat*

S6

(MH "Random Assignment")

S5

TX randomi* control* trial*

S4

TX ( (singl* n1 blind*) or (singl* n1 mask*) )
or TX ( (doubl* n1 blind*) or (doubl* n1 mask*) )
or TX ( (tripl* n1 blind*) or (tripl* n1 mask*) )
or TX ( (trebl* n1 blind*) or (trebl* n1 mask*) )

S3

TX clinic* n1 trial*

S2

PT Clinical trial

S1

(MH "Clinical Trials+")

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Observational Studies

The Observational Studies search filter used by SIGN has been developed in-house to retrieve studies most likely to meet SIGN's methodological critieria.

Medline

1 Epidemiologic studies/
2 Exp case control studies/
3 Exp cohort studies/
4 Case control.tw.
5 (cohort adj (study or studies)).tw.
6 Cohort analy$.tw.
7 (Follow up adj (study or studies)).tw.
8 (observational adj (study or studies)).tw.
9 Longitudinal.tw.
10 Retrospective.tw.
11 Cross sectional.tw.
12 Cross-sectional studies/
13 Or/1-12

Embase

1 Clinical study/
2 Case control study
3 Family study/
4 Longitudinal study/
5 Retrospective study/
6 Prospective study/
7 Randomized controlled trials/
8 6 not 7
9 Cohort analysis/
10 (Cohort adj (study or studies)).mp.
11 (Case control adj (study or studies)).tw.
12 (follow up adj (study or studies)).tw.
13 (observational adj (study or studies)).tw.
14 (epidemiologic$ adj (study or studies)).tw.
15 (cross sectional adj (study or studies)).tw.
16 Or/1-5,8-15

CINAHL

1 Prospective studies/
2 Exp case control studies/
3 Correlational studies/
4 Nonconcurrent prospective studies/
5 Cross sectional studies/
6 (cohort adj (study or studies)).tw.
7 (observational adj (study or studies)).tw.
8 or/1-7

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Diagnostic Studies

The Diagnostic Studies search filter used by SIGN has been adapted from the filter designed by the Health Information Research Unit of the McMaster University, Ontario.

Medline

  1. exp "Sensitivity and Specificity"/
  2. sensitivity.tw.
  3. specificity.tw.
  4. ((pre-test or pretest) adj probability).tw.
  5. post-test probability.tw.
  6. predictive value$.tw.
  7. likelihood ratio$.tw.
  8. or/1-7

Embase

  1. exp "SENSITIVITY AND SPECIFICITY"/
  2. sensitivity.tw.
  3. specificity.tw.
  4. ((pre-test or pretest) adj probability).tw.
  5. post-test probability.tw.
  6. predictive value$.tw.
  7. likelihood ratio$.tw.
  8. *Diagnostic Accuracy/
  9. or/1-8

CINHAL

  1. exp "Sensitivity and Specificity"/
  2. sensitivity.tw.
  3. specificity.tw.
  4. ((pre-test or pretest) adj probability).tw.
  5. post-test probability.tw.
  6. predictive value$.tw.
  7. likelihood ratio$.tw.
  8. or/1-7

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Economic Studies

The economic studies filter used by SIGN is an adaptation of the strategy designed by the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at the University of York.

Medline

1 Economics/
2 "costs and cost analysis"/
3 Cost allocation/
4 Cost-benefit analysis/
5 Cost control/
6 Cost savings/
7 Cost of illness/
8 Cost sharing/
9 "deductibles and coinsurance"/
10 Medical savings accounts/
11 Health care costs/
12 Direct service costs/
13 Drug costs/
14 Employer health costs/
15 Hospital costs/
16 Health expenditures/
17 Capital expenditures/
18 Value of life/
19 Exp economics, hospital/
20 Exp economics, medical/
21 Economics, nursing/
22 Economics, pharmaceutical/
23 Exp "fees and charges"/
24 Exp budgets/
25 (low adj cost).mp.
26 (high adj cost).mp.
27 (health?care adj cost$).mp.
28 (fiscal or funding or financial or finance).tw.
29 (cost adj estimate$).mp.
30 (cost adj variable).mp.
31 (unit adj cost$).mp.
32 (economic$ or pharmacoeconomic$ or price$ or pricing).tw.
33 Or/1-32

Embase

1 Socioeconomics/
2 Cost benefit analysis/
3 Cost effectiveness analysis/
4 Cost of illness/
5 Cost control/
6 Economic aspect/
7 Financial management/
8 Health care cost/
9 Health care financing/
10 Health economics/
11 Hospital cost/
12 (fiscal or financial or finance or funding).tw.
13 Cost minimization analysis/
14 (cost adj estimate$).mp.
15 (cost adj variable$).mp.
16 (unit adj cost$).mp.
17 Or/1-16

CINAHL

1 Exp economics/
2 Exp "financial management"/
3 Exp "financial support"/
4 Exp "financing organized"/
5 Exp "business"/
6 Or/2-5
7 1 not 6
8 Health resource allocation.sh.
9 Health resource utilization.sh.
10 8 or 9
11 7 or 10
12 (cost or costs or economic$ or pharmacoeconomic$ or price$ or pricing$).tw.
13 11 or 12
14 Editorial.pt.
15 Letter.pt.
16 News.pt.
17 Or/14-16
18 13 not 17
19 "Animal studies"/
20 18 not 19
21 Cochrane library.so.
22 Anonymous.au.
23 20 not (21 or 22)

Patient Issues

The search strategy below is used for all patient searches conducted at SIGN.  This strategy was developed by the information team at SIGN. For each guideline, we write a search strategy for the disease. This is combined with the patient stem. The search is run in Medline, Embase, Cochrane, Cinahl and Psycinfo.  Relevant papers are selected from the results, and categorized into a number of themes.

Medline

1. exp Patients/
2. patient$.tw.
3. inpatient$.tw.
4. outpatient$.tw.
5. client$.tw.
6. survivor$.tw.
7. user$.tw.
8. consumer$.tw.
9. exp persons/
10. person$.tw.
11. people$.tw.
12. individual$.tw.
13. victim$.tw.
14. amputee$.tw.
15. personal$.tw.
16. adult$.tw.
17. caregiver$.tw.
18. (care adj giver$).tw.
19. carer$.tw.
20. guardian$.tw.
21. exp family/
22. family.tw.
23. families.tw.
24. relative$.tw.
25. relation$.tw.
26. spouse$.tw.
27. partner$.tw.
28. parent$.tw.
29. stepparent$.tw.
30. step-parent$.tw.
31. husband$.tw.
32. wife.tw.
33. wives.tw.
34. chld$.tw.
35. offspring.tw.
36. daughter$.tw.
37. father$.tw.
38. stepfather$.tw.
39. step-father$.tw.
40. mother$.tw.
41. brother$.tw.
42. sister$.tw.
43. sibling$.tw.
44. "next of kin".tw.
45. woman$.tw.
46. women$.tw.
47. friend.tw.
48. friends.tw.
49. exp focus groups/
50. stepmother$.tw.
51. step-mother$.tw.
52. (focus adj group$).tw.
53. exp Self-Help Groups/
54. "self-help group$".tw.
55. "support group$".tw.
56. exp Community Networks/
57. "community network$".tw.
58. exp social support/
59. "social support".tw.
60. "social network$".tw.
61. "terminally ill".tw.
62. sufferer.tw.
63. sufferers.tw.
64. or/1-63
65. view$.tw.
66. experience$.tw.
67. perspective$.tw.
68. perception/
69. social perception/
70. perception$.tw.
71. narrative$.tw.
72. discourse$.tw.
73. story.tw.
74. stories.tw.
75. satisfaction.tw.
76. perceived.tw.
77. concern$.tw.
78. issue$.tw.
79. exp attitude/
80. attitude$.tw.
81. exp emotions/
82. emotion$.tw.
83. anger$.tw.
84. fear$.tw.
85. disappoint$.tw.
86. angry.tw.
87. afraid.tw.
88. sadness.tw.
89. distress$.tw.
90. nervous$.tw.
91. anxiety.tw.
92. anxieties.tw.
93. anxious$.tw.
94. euphoria.tw.
95. euphoric.tw.
96. frustat$.tw.
97. guilt$.tw.
98. hate$.tw.
99. hatred.tw.
100. hostility.tw.
101. jealous$.tw.
102. loneliness.tw.
103. lonely.tw.
104. grief.tw.
105. grieving.tw.
106. bereavement$.tw.
107. mourn$.tw.
108. mood$.tw.
109. feeling$.tw.
110. happiness.tw.
111. happy.tw.
112. joy$.tw.
113. laugh$.tw.
114. love.tw.
115. loving.tw.
116. honest$.tw.
117. despair$.tw.
118. hope$.tw.
119. hoping.tw.
120. exp empathy/
121. empathy.tw.
122. compassion$.tw.
123. exp Negativism/
124. faith$.tw.
125. ethics/
126. morale.tw.
127. exp morale/
128. "unmet need$".tw.
129. exp human rights/
130. exp stress/
131. exp stress, psychological/
132. exp adaptation, psychological/
133. ((psycho$ or social) adj adjust$).tw.
134. cope.tw.
135. coping.tw.
136. exp psychology, social/
137. "social values".tw.
138. worry$.tw.
139. worries.tw.
140. exp quality of life/
141. "quality of life".tw.
142. qol.tw.
143. "quality of recovery".tw.
144. dignity.tw.
145. dignif$.tw.
146. "right to die".tw.
147. "patient advocacy".tw.
148. exp suicide/
149. suicid$.tw.
150. exp euthanasia/
151. euthanasia.tw.
152. "right to live".tw.
153. "right to choose".tw.
154. (choice$ or empower$).tw.
155. "self esteem".tw.
156. exp decision making/
157. (decision adj making).tw.
158. exp communication/
159. "access to information".tw.
160. exp confidentiality/
161. confidentiality.tw.
162. privacy.tw.
163. (truth adj3 disclosure$).tw.
164. ((psycho$ or cultural) adj depriv$).tw.
165. social isolation/
166. "social isolation".tw.
167. "access to services".tw.
168. exp information services/
169. exp counseling/
170. counsel$.tw.
171. (pastoral adj (care or psychology)).tw.
172. spiritual$.tw.
173. exp religion/
174. (beliefs or prayer$ or customs).tw.
175. exp sexuality/
176. sexuality.tw.
177. exp culture/
178. ((psycho$ or social) adj support).tw.
179. exp social support/
180. exp self-help groups/
181. "self-help group$".tw.
182. "support group$".tw.
183. exp community networks/
184. "community network$".tw.
185. "social network$".tw.
186. misperception$.tw.
187. suffer$.tw.
188. exp pain/
189. pain.tw.
190. comfort$.tw.
191. comfortable.tw.
192. 190 not 191
193. or/65-189,192
194. 64 and 193
195. exp Patients/ed, px [Education, Psychology]
196. exp persons/ed, px
197. exp family/ed, px [Education, Psychology]
198. exp Interpersonal Relations/
199. exp Family Relations/
200. exp Professional-Patient Relations/
201. Consumer Satisfaction/
202. exp Consumer Participation/
203. exp Patient Education/
204. exp personal satisfaction/
205. "patient information".tw.
206. (patient adj (leaflet$ or booklet$ or pamphlet$)).tw.
207. or/195-206
208. 194 or 207

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