To compare the performance of search strategies to retrieve systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy from The Cochrane Library.Methods:
Databases of Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and Cochrane Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects in the Cochrane Library were searched for systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy published between 2008 and 2012 through nine search strategies. Each strategy consists of one group or combination of groups of searching filters about diagnostic test accuracy. Four groups of diagnostic filters were used. The strategy combing all the filters was used as the reference to determine the sensitivity, precision, and the sensitivity × precision product for another eight strategies.Results:
The reference strategy retrieved 8029 records, of which 832 were eligible. The strategy only composed of MeSH terms about “accuracy measures” achieved the highest values in both precision (69.71%) and product (52.45%) with a moderate sensitivity (75.24%). The combination of MeSH terms and free text words about “accuracy measures” contributed little to increasing the sensitivity. Strategies composed of filters about “diagnosis” had similar sensitivity but lower precision and product to those composed of filters about “accuracy measures.” MeSH term “exp‘diagnosis’” achieved the lowest precision (9.78%) and product (7.91%), while its hyponym retrieved only half the number of records at the expense of missing 53 target articles. The precision was negatively correlated with sensitivities among the nine strategies.Conclusions:
Compared to the filters about “diagnosis,” the filters about “accuracy measures” achieved similar sensitivities but higher precision. When combining both terms, sensitivity of the strategy was enhanced obviously. The combination of MeSH terms and free text words about the same concept seemed to be meaningless for enhancing sensitivity.