Filters to Identify Randomized Controlled Trials and Other Trials

Inclusion of a search filter on this site is not an endorsement of its validity or a recommendation for its use by the editors of this site, by the InterTASC Information Specialists SubGroup or by the (UK) National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). For suggestions on the appraisal of filters see the ISSG Search Filter Appraisal Checklist.


This page shows publications that have reviewed search filter performance and individual search filters

Publications that review search filter performance

Cooper C, Varley-Campbell J, Carter P. Established search filters may miss studies when identifying randomized controlled trialsJ Clin Epidemiol. 2019 Apr 13;112:12-19. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2019.04.002. [Epub ahead of print]

O'Rourke JM, Ward KE, Thompson JC Single-arm trials in systematic reviews: are they adequately captures by exisiting search filters? ISPOR 19th Annual European Congress  Vienna, Austria  October, 2016


Yousefi-Nooraie R, Irani S, Mortaz-Hedjri S, Shakiba B. Comparison of the efficacy of three PubMed search filters in finding randomized controlled trials to answer clinical questions J Eval Clin Pract. 2013;19(5):723-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2753.2010.01554.x. Epub 2010 Sep 16.

McKibbon KA, Wilczynski N L, Haynes R B. Retrieving randomized controlled trials from medline: a comparison of 38 published search filters. Health Info Libr J. 2009; 26(3):187-202.

Bardia A, Wahner-Roedler DL, Erwin PL, Sood A. Search strategies for retrieving complementary and alternative medicine clinical trials in oncologyIntegr Cancer Ther. 2006;5(3):202-5

Anthony D, Hill S, Johnson K, Stokes B. A better gold pan: capturing RCTs with more precision. 13th Cochrane Colloquium; 2005 October 22-26; Melbourne, Australia.

Sampson M, Zhang L, Ajiferuke I, Sampson M. Optimizing search strategies to identify randomized controlled trials in MEDLINE. 12th Cochrane Colloquium; 2004 October 2-6; Ottawa, Canada.


Individual search filters


Database Filter
CINAHL

Glanville Julie,  Dooley Gordon,  Wisniewski Susi, Foxlee Ruth, Noel‐Storr Anna. Development of a search filter to identify reports of controlled clinical trials within CINAHL Plus. Health Lib J 08 February 2019 https://doi.org/10.1111/hir.12251

SIGN strategy [undated] [Ovid]

Wong SS, Wilczynski NL, Haynes RB. Optimal CINAHL search strategies for identifying therapy studies and review articles. J Nurs Scholarsh. 2006;38(2):194-9.

EMBASE Cochrane Embase filter [undated]

Wong SS, Wilczynski NL, Haynes RB. Developing optimal search strategies for detecting clinically sound treatment studies in EMBASE. J Med Libr Assoc. 2006;94(1):41-7. [Ovid]

Galandi D, Bassler D, Antes G. Identifying randomized controlled trials published in German general health care journals using Medline and Embase: how useful is the controlled vocabulary? [abstract] 8th Cochrane Colloquium; 2000 October 25-29; Cape Town, South Africa.

Watson RJ, Richardson PH. Identifying randomized controlled trials of cognitive therapy for depression: comparing the efficiency of Embase, Medline and PsycINFO bibliographic databases. Br J Med Psychol. 1999;72(4):535-42. [RCTs of cognitive therapy for depression] [Ovid]

Burdett S, Stewart LA, Tierney JF. Searching bibliographic databases: costs and benefits [abstract]. 2nd International Conference. Scientific Basis of Health Services & 5th Cochrane Colloquium; October 1997; Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

BMJ Clinical Evidence strategy [undated] [Ovid]

CADTH strategy [2014] [Ovid]

OVID Randomised controlled trials search filter [undated]

SIGN strategy [undated] [Ovid]

LILACS Manríquez JJ. A highly sensitive search strategy for clinical trials in Literatura Latino Americana e do Caribe em Ciências da Saúde (LILACS) was developed. J Clin Epidemiol. 2008;61(4):407-11.

de Freitas AE, Herbert RD, Latimer J, Ferreira PH. Searching the LILACS database for Portuguese- and Spanish-language randomized trials in physiotherapy was difficult. J Clin Epidemiol. 2005;58(3):233-7. [RCTs in physiotherapy]

Castro AA, Clark OA, Atallah AN. Optimal search strategy for clinical trials in the Latin American and Caribbean Health Science Literature database (LILACS database): update. Sao Paulo Med J. 1999;117(3):138-9.

MEDLINE

Corrao S, Colomba D, Argano C, Calvo L, Scaglione R, et al. Optimized search strategy for detecting scientifically strong studies on treatment through PubMed. Intern Emerg Med. 2012;7(3):283-287

Taljaard M, McGowan J, Grimshaw JM, Brehaut JC, McRae A, Eccles MP, Donner A: Electronic search strategies to identify reports of cluster randomized trials in MEDLINE: low precision will improve with adherence to reporting standards. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2010;10:15

University of Texas School of Public Health. Search filters for case-control studies and clinical trials. Accessed 06 Dec 2013. [Ovid]

Lefebvre C, Manheimer E, Glanville J. Chapter 6: searching for studies. In: Higgins JPT, Green S, editors. Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions. Version 5.0.2 [updated September 2009]. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2009

Eisinga A, Siegfried N, Clarke M. The sensitivity and precision of search terms in phases I, II and III of the Cochrane Highly Sensitive Search Strategy for identifying reports of randomized trials in MEDLINE in a specific area of health care- HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment interventions. Health Info Libr J. 2007;24(2):103-09. [RCT and CCTs in HIV/AIDS interventions] [PubMed]

Royle PL, Waugh NR. Making literature searches easier: a rapid and sensitive search filter for retrieving randomized controlled trials from PubMed. Diabet Med. 2007;24(3):308-11 [PubMed]

Corrao S, Colomba D, Arnone S, Argano C, Di Chiara T, Scaglione R, Licata G. Improving efficacy of PubMed clinical queries for retrieving scientifically strong studies on treatment. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2006;13:485-7. [PubMed]

Glanville JM, Lefebvre C, Miles JN, Camosso-Stefinovic J. How to identify randomized controlled trials in MEDLINE: ten years on. J Med Libr Assoc. 2006;94(2):130-6. Erratum: J Med Libr Assoc. 2006;94(3):354.

Zhang L, Ajiferuke I, Sampson M. Optimizing search strategies to identify randomized controlled trials in MEDLINE. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2006;6:23. [Ovid]

Haynes RB, McKibbon KA, Wilczynski NL, Walter SD, Werre SR, Hedges Team. Optimal search strategies for retrieving scientifically strong studies of treatment from Medline: analytical survey. BMJ 2005;330(7501):1179. [PubMed]

Royle P, Waugh N. A simplified search strategy for identifying randomised controlled trials for systematic reviews of health care interventions: a comparison with more exhaustive strategies. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2005;5:23. [Ovid]

Heran B S, Wright J M. Development of an optimal search strategy for finding trials demonstrating ACE inhibitor blood pressure lowering efficacy [poster]. 10th Cochrane Colloquium; 2002 July 31 - August 3; Stavanger, Norway. [RCTs in hypertension treatment] [Ovid]

Robinson KA, Dickersin K. Development of a highly sensitive search strategy for the retrieval of reports of controlled trials using PubMed. Int J Epidemiol. 2002; 31(1):150-3. [Controlled trials] [PubMed]

Chow T, To E, Goodchild C, McNeil J. Improved indexing of randomised controlled trials has enabled computer search strategies to identify them with high sensitivity and specificity, in pain relief research [abstract]. 8th Cochrane Colloquium; 2000 October 25-29; Cape Town, South Africa. [Ovid]

Dumbrigue HB, Esquivel JF, Jones JS. Assessment of MEDLINE search strategies for randomized controlled trials in prosthodontics. J Prosthodont. 2000;9(1):8-13. [RCTs in prosthodontics]

Galandi D, Bassler D, Antes G. Identifying randomized controlled trials published in German general health care journals using Medline and Embase: how useful is the controlled vocabulary? [abstract] 8th International Cochrane Colloquium; 2000 October 25-29; Cape Town, South Africa.

Watson RJ, Richardson PH. Identifying randomized controlled trials of cognitive therapy for depression: comparing the efficiency of Embase, Medline and PsycINFO bibliographic databases. Br J Med Psychol. 1999;72(4):535-42. [RCTs of cognitive therapy for depression] [Ovid]

Brand M, Gonzalez J, Aguilar C. Identifying RCTs in MEDLINE by publication type and through the Cochrane Strategy: the case in hypertension [abstract]. 6th Annual Cochrane Colloquium; October 1998; Baltimore, USA. [RCTs in hypertension]

Bender JS, Halpern SH, Thangaroopan M, Jadad AR, Ohlsson A. Quality and retrieval of obstetrical anaesthesia randomized controlled trials. Can J Anaesth. 1997; 44(1):14-8. [RCTs in obstetrical anaesthesia]

Burdett S, Stewart LA, Tierney JF. Searching bibliographic databases: costs and benefits [abstract]. 2nd International Conference. Scientific Basis of Health Services & 5th Annual Cochrane Colloquium; October 1997; Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Duggan LM, Morris M, Adams CE. Prevalence study of the randomized controlled trials in the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research: 1957-1994. J Intellect Disabil Res. 1997;41(3):232-237. [SilverPlatter]

McDonald S, Clarke M, Lefebvre C. Should we continue to handsearch MEDLINE-indexed journals prospectively? Some up-to-date empirical evidence [abstract]. 2nd International Conference. Scientific Basis of Health Services & 5th Cochrane Colloquium; October 1997; Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Marson A G, Chadwick D W. How easy are randomized controlled trials in epilepsy to find on Medline? The sensitivity and precision of two Medline searches. Epilepsia 1996;37(4):377-380. [RCTs in epilepsy] [SilverPlatter]

Adams CE, Power A, Frederick K, Lefebvre C. An investigation of the adequacy of MEDLINE searches for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of the effects of mental health care. Psychol Med. 1994; 24(3):741-8.

Dickersin K, Scherer R, Lefebvre C. Identifying relevant studies for systematic reviews. BMJ 1994;309(6964):1286-91.

Haynes R, Wilczynski N, McKibbon K, Walker C, Sinclair J. Developing optimal search strategies for detecting clinically sound studies in MEDLINE. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 1994;1:447-458. [Treatment including RCTs]

Solomon MJ, Laxamana A, Devore L, McLeod RS. Randomized controlled trials in surgery. Surgery 1994;115(6):707-12. [RCTs in surgery]

Gøtzsche PC, Lange B. Comparison of search strategies for recalling double-blind trials from MEDLINE. Dan Med Bull 1991;38:476-8. [Double-blind trials]

Kirpalani H, Schmidt B, McKibbon KA, Haynes RB, Sinclair J C. Searching MEDLINE for randomized clinical trials involving care of the newborn. Pediatrics 1989;83(4):543-546. [RCTs in care of the newborn] [Grateful Med]

Bernstein F. The retrieval of randomized clinical trials in liver diseases from the medical literature: manual versus MEDLARS searches. Control Clin Trials 1988; 9(1):23-31. [RCTs in liver diseases] [MEDLARS]

Dickersin K, Hewitt P, Mutch L, Chalmers I, Chalmers TC. Perusing the literature: comparison of MEDLINE searching with a perinatal trials database. Control Clin Trials 1985;6(4):306-17.

Poynard T, Conn HO. The retrieval of randomized clinical trials in liver disease from the medical literature. A comparison of MEDLARS and manual methods. Control Clin Trials 1985;6(4):271-9. [RCTs in liver diseases] [MEDLARS]

BMJ Clinical Evidence strategy [undated] [Ovid]

CADTH strategy [2014] [Ovid]

OVID Randomised controlled trials search filter [undated]

SIGN strategy [undated] [Ovid]

PsycINFO

Eady AM, Wilczynski NL, Haynes RB. PsycINFO search strategies identified methodologically sound therapy studies and review articles for use by clinicians and researchers. J Clin Epidemiol. 2008;61(1):34-40. [Ovid]

Watson RJ, Richardson PH. Identifying randomized controlled trials of cognitive therapy for depression: comparing the efficiency of Embase, Medline and PsycINFO bibliographic databases. Br J Med Psychol. 1999;72(4):535-42. [RCTs of cognitive therapy for depression] [Ovid]

Duggan LM, Morris M, Adams CE. Prevalence study of the randomized controlled trials in the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research: 1957-1994. J Intellect Disabil Res. 1997;41(3):232-7. [SilverPlatter]

CADTH strategy [2014] [Ovid]