Systematic reviews aim to synthesize the relevant literature as the basis for decision making. In many cases, evidence from non-randomized studies (NRS) might need to be included. NRS include a wide range of study types (e.g. controlled clinical trial, before-after study, cohort study), which are difficult to identify in the literature, as study design labels are not used consistently by authors and are not indexed reliably by bibliographic databases. It is important that information specialists supporting systematic reviews have a basic understanding of study designs in epidemiology and are informed about the applicability of currently available search filters for NRS.
1) The workshop will present an overview of existing epidemiological study designs and introduce a study classification algorithm. Examples on how study designs are reported in abstracts of journal articles will be provided.
2) Participants, who will be divided into small groups, will be given a classification exercise in which they have to classify abstracts of NRS included in Cochrane Reviews. The results will then be compiled and potential study designs discussed. We will then access the fulltext of the studies in order to verify our assumptions.
3) When searching bibliographic databases for NRS, it is usually necessary to decide whether existing search filters can be used. For this purpose, the results of a recent validation study of search filters will be presented. Search filter selection as well as alternative search techniques will be discussed
Learning Outcomes : By the end of this session, participants will be able to : distinguish and describe the most important study designs used in epidemiology; identify the terms used to describe the study design in biomedical abstracts; evaluate the applicability of currently available study design filters for NRS; describe the challenges of searching for NRS.
Level : Intermediate/Advanced
Target audience : Medical librarians and information specialists supporting systematic reviews including study designs beyond randomized controlled trials.
Preparation for the session : Yes