Can database-level MEDLINE exclusion filters in Embase and CINAHL be used to remove duplicate records without loss of relevant studies in systematic reviews? An exploratory study
Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association
Objective: To investigate whether using database filters to remove MEDLINE results within Embase (OVID) and CINAHL (EBSCO) would result in fewer records, without leading to any loss of studies included in the final review. Methods: We reviewed the included studies from a sample set of 20 Cochrane Reviews, and replicated the search strategies from those reviews in MEDLINE, Embase (both on the OVID platform) and CINAHL (EBSCO). Results were exported to EndNote; then relevant MEDLINE filters were
... DLINE filters were applied within each database, and results were exported again. Filtered results were analysed to determine whether the filtered Embase and CINAHL results excluded relevant studies that were not identified in the original MEDLINE search. Results: Using the "Records from: Embase" filter resulted in no loss of included studies; however, the "Exclude MEDLINE journals" filter in Embase resulted in a failure to retrieve a large number of relevant studies. CINAHL's filter for MEDLINE records resulted in a very small number of studies being lost. Conclusions: The "Records from: Embase" filter may be safely used for deduplication, though as it removes conferences, searchers may also want to review Conference abstracts separately using the Conferences filter. CINAHL's MEDLINE filter comes with a small risk of filtering out relevant studies, but may be appropriate to use. Though we did not set out to address this question, our results also demonstrate that it is not advisable to rely on an unfiltered search of Embase alone in order to identify all relevant studies.