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Searching for studies for inclusion in Cochrane Systematic Reviews on injury prevention
  1. K Blackhall,
  2. K Ker
  1. Cochrane Injuries Group
  1. Karen Blackhall, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK; karen.blackhall{at}

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The Cochrane Injuries Group (CIG) prepares and maintains Cochrane Systematic Reviews of interventions for the prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of traumatic injury. In this edition of Cochrane Corner, we describe how to search for studies to be included in a systematic review. Researchers and policy makers may also find these strategies useful when conducting general literature reviews on injury topics.

An adequate search is key to ensuring high quality of the resultant review. To achieve the aim of identifying all relevant evidence, sophisticated information searching techniques are required. It is, however, a challenge to devise a search strategy with the appropriate balance between sensitivity and specificity; a sensitive search is required in order to identify as much of the relevant evidence as possible, yet specificity is required to ensure that the review author is not forced to wade through extensive amounts of irrelevant information. Search methods for every review need careful consideration to ensure that eligible studies are not missed or rejected, which could compromise the review’s findings.

Injury prevention reviews pose a particular challenge when it comes to searching, as much of the relevant evidence is present in sources that are not indexed on the major databases such as Medline, EMBASE, and PubMed. Thus, searching of other, sometimes less standard, resources is an important part of conducting such a review. For example, authors of some of the CIG’s interventions for road safety reviews have found that much relevant evidence can be identified from general internet searches and websites of related institutions such as the National …

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