Effective Searching: Evidence Based Solutions (#39)
Ensuring the use of what is known to be effective in practice remains a challenging problem for health and social systems. A fundamental pre-requisite to the use of evidence in oncology is the ability to find the relevant literature. However, individuals are challenged by the complexities of bibliographic databases and of search formulation. Search filters represent an innovative solution to the problem of literature retrieval by facilitating access to the underlying evidence base for rapid utilisation. A search filter is an experimentally developed search strategy with a known rate of retrieval effectiveness.
The aim was to develop search filters relevant to health and to oncology.
Search filter construction comprises four phases:
1. Selection and construction of a gold standard set of references of known relevance to the topic of interest
2. Term identification
3. Filter development through individual and combined term testing, and
4. Filter translation and validation for web based access to PubMed.
One a search filter has been developed (eg non-small cell lung cancer) it can be combined with other constructs such as operable/inoperable and staging. By translating for use in PubMed, searches can be presented as “one-click” hyperlinks.
To date, a lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer search filters have been developed. Other validated search filters including those for palliative care, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Islander Health and Primary Health Care can also be used to support literature retrieval in cancer care.
Searching solutions including specialist search filters that automatically retrieve relevant literature are an important strategy to facilitate access to relevant literature and to enhance the use of research knowledge in policy and practice. For cancer, where the evidence base is extensive, diverse and dynamic, structured systems for knowledge management are particularly important.