HTAi15 IRG Advanced Searching Workshop: Understanding and Using Text Analysis Tools

IRG Text Analysis 15The final session of the IRG Advanced Searching Workshop was divided up into 4 parts and was rather intensive. Well, the entire workshop was intense! A lot was covered. Julie Glanville from York Health Economics Consortium spoke briefly about text analysis tools (which was covered in more detail at the HLA event earlier this year) and Carol Lefebrve talked about the 2002- project to test the Cochrane Highly Sensitive Search Strategy for RCTs (developed in 1993-4) to determine whether it still performed well with as little terms as possible. Since the development of the Medline filter, a few changes had occurred – the addition of the Controlled Clinical Trial publication type in MeSH (quasi-randomised trials), better trial reporting due to CONSORT guidelines, and the development of text analysis tools. It was through testing with a gold standard set of RCTs and a set of non-trial records using WordStat that the best identifier term was Controlled Clinical Trial PT. But due to indexing changes (RCTs and CCT PT double-indexing cessation) reassessment led to the best identifiers (those terms locating most RCTs) was  RCT MeSH OR CCT PT. This was one of the issues with the filter that Carol mentioned (always be aware of indexing policies and changes!) and the other was the non-text terms to catch non-indexed records. Siw Waffenschmidt and Elke Hausner from the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Healthcare (IQWIG) discussed generating search strategy development test sets for data analysis and guidance for identifying subject terms and text-words. The guidance is from the recently published EUnetHTA Process of information retrieval for systematic reviews and health technology assessments on clinical effectiveness (still in 2nd draft stage). Hausner spoke about the work she and other IS researchers did in comparing the conceptual and objective approach to search strategy development, one which is elaborated in this journal article: Development of search strategies for systematic reviews: validation showed the noninferiority of the objective approach.  Basically, the research showed that a conceptual  strategy developed by Cochrane with more synonyms was not superior to a objective search strategy on the same topic developed by IQWIG. However, the objective approach is not faster than the conceptual. Time saved is not the issue here though, it is the quality of the search. IQWIG demonstrated with their projects that the conceptual approach can produce high quality strategies that are stable over time and more suited to complex questions.  Take home points: text analysis tools are here to stay! It will take time to learn this approach but the plus side is that it produces strategies of equal quality to those developed using the conceptual approach as well as data to demonstrate strategy development and decision-making.

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