Category Archives: Systematic Reviews

Conferences of note

I’m on conference strike! International conferences that is. I’ve been travelling to the other side of the world (apart from countries in Asia) every year since 2009. It has gotten a bit wearing. So, I’m on a conference strike (temporary mind you) for a little while.

There are 2 conferences and 1 workshop in Europe that I would attend if I weren’t on strike. One is the ICML+EAHIL conference at Dublin Castle, Ireland. The program looks great – check it out here. Michelle Kraft is one of the keynote speakers. Registration is now open.

The other conference I would’ve attended is the International Clinical Librarians Conference (ICLC). I attended last year when ICLC paired with the MLA annual meeting in Toronto. It was full on but great. The ICLC organisers are lovely people and it is well worth attending. Planning on visiting the UK for a holiday this year? Why not combine it with a conference? Registrations are now open!

I used to be Chair-Elect and then Chair of the HTAi Information Retrieval Group and part of my role was organising and running the annual pre-conference Advanced Searching workshop. I’m on the Executive Committee assisting the current Chair and Chair-elect and one of those roles is to help advertise the workshop. It looks great though, and early bird registration has been extended to the end of March. You don’t have to attend the HTAi conference itself, though some of the program and workshops on Saturday before the IRG workshop look good. The IRG workshop is called Text Analysis Tools And Rapid Reviews: Practical Guidance For Advanced Information Retrieval. Click here for the HTAi 2017 conference website. This year HTAi2017 is in Rome.

So what is the next conference/workshop I’m going to attend that is a flight away? It will probably be Health Libraries Australia annual PD day, to be held in Perth this July. I’ve not been to WA before, so it could be an interesting trip.



TEBM15 – what I learnt

It has been awhile since I returned from the UK and I have been meaning to write about the experience and what I learnt for awhile now. But every time I started to settle down to writing, something cropped up that I had to deal with.

There was only one other librarian there. Most were university lecturers, clinical educators, and hospital consultants or researchers who had teaching as part of their work duties. They came from all over the world, and I wasn’t the only Australian there. There was someone from Monash Health and someone from the University of Melbourne. In the group I was in (small group teaching is a common method used in medical education), there was a university lecturer of undergraduates from South Korea, a university research fellow from Norway, a clinical educator from Plymouth Primary Care, 2 from the Nuffield Primary Health Care (which CEBM is a part of), and 2 from NIHR Applied Health Research and Care. The picture below is all of us after the course end. TEBM Group 3My last post expressed a bit of my nervousness about the timetable. It looked very intensive! And it was intensive, but very stimulating and inspiring. There was some prep to do before the course and one of them was to prepare a teaching session that you would deliver normally. On the first day during small group work in the afternoon, people delivered their presentations. I did mine without powerpoint (the only person to do so!) and it was mostly off the top of my head after reviewing my notes (I had run out of time to prepare and send one – bad me!). The comments from the facilitators were that it needed a bit more structure and could I do it again? Sure. I had just brought an iPad that didn’t have Microsoft Office applications. So  before going out to dinner at Jamie Olivers the following evening, I downloaded ppt and then after dinner, worked on my presentation and emailed it to the facilitator at 10.30pm and presented again the next day. The mini presentations were commented on by the facilitators and the group and it was a great learning experience. The final group work on the last day was to prepare and deliver a stats presentation, teaming up with another to do it. Now this was challenging! I teamed up with a clinician and said ‘let’s do likelihood ratios’. There was a statistician in the room who helped people with various problems. The clinician and I used the formula in the workbook provided but we couldn’t figure it out. And we asked for advice … and it turned out the formula in the workbook was incorrect! What happened next was a mini class for the group about how to calculate likelihood ratios.

The plenary sessions were delivered by a mix of professionals – clinical educators giving their tips and tricks for specific areas (eg RCTs), curriculum designers and assessors, a highschool science teacher about lesson planning, and a medical librarian. I thought I wouldn’t learn anything from the searching session but I was wrong! Her tips were: make sure access to electronic sources is available beforehand, what to do if there isn’t access available and make searching sessions relevant by using clinically relevant examples (if you have a defined group) and health news reported in the media (if you don’t). I liked the random allocation of the resource to use. Many tips were repeated: safe learning place (what does that actually mean?), use humour, use stories (many presenters used personal stories to illustrate a clinical example, use a mix of media – voice, ppt, videos, images. During each plenary, everyone – including the presenters and facilitators attended – and in some sessions, there was lively debate amongst them. Rod Jackson’s session about the GATE Frame was interesting but what he brought to the session was infectious enthusiasm which really made an impact. The highschool teacher talked about session planning which was really good and something I really wanted to know about. She gave out a handout called Bloom’s Taxonomy – Teacher Planning Kit which is a great tool for working out what sort of questions and words to use in education sessions. And I was really impressed when she told me at one lunch break that she runs a journal club for her final year students – cool!! Both the diagnostics and the RCT session underlined keeping things simple and not throwing too many concepts at people and the teaching stats plenary included a fun activity (head measurement) to demonstrate a inter-rater reliability concept. And I was chuffed when the SR presenter used a concept from my presentation in his!

On the final day we had presentations from all the groups, and a wrap-up from the Chair and Director of CEBM, Carl Heneghan (with some genial threats that he was going to follow up on what we have done in 3mths time … ).

All ppts are available on the TEBM15 website and accounts of this year’s course are mentioned on the CEBM blog.

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.