Reporting of Search Methodology in Abstracts of Meta-Analyses of Survival Data in MEDLINE
For researchers of physicians that want to read meta-analyses of survival data that intend to take into account all available evidence, one of the most important factors that can attract them to read the full text of an article is the reporting in the abstract of the search methodology used to identify articles for meta-analyses. The AIM of this paper was to assess the reporting of search methodology in abstracts of meta-analysis publications of survival data in the past ten years. Meta-analyses publications of survival data were searched in MEDLINE using the expression survival rate OR survival analysis, limited to human subjects, meta-analysis publication type, and to studies published between January 1 1996 and December 31 2005. Retrieved articles were assessed for inclusion based on title and abstract to see if they were meta-analyses of survival data. The information sources mainly represented by individual studies and in a lesser degree by searching in bibliographic databases. There was a tendency of increased usage of bibliographic databases, and a tendency of increased reporting of information sources in past 3 years. Overall the most reported to be searched bibliographic databases are in decreasing order: MEDLINE, Cochrane databases, EMBASE, CANCERLIT. In the last three years a positive trend of increased reporting of the years covered by the search strategy was found. Regarding search specifications there was a positive trend of increased reporting of searching for unpublished studies, an increased reporting of string or key words used in the search strategy and a decreasing trend of reporting limitations in searching only in certain languages.