Appraisal of: Efficient strategies to find diagnostic test accuracy studies in kidney journals


Caroline Higgins

Julie Glanville

Full reference:

Rogerson TE, Ladhani M, Mitchell R, Craig JC, Webster AC. Efficient strategies to find diagnostic test accuracy studies in kidney journals. Nephrology (Carlton). 2015 Aug;20(8):513-8.

Short description:

The aim of this study was to assess the performance of published diagnostic accuracy search filters for retrieval of diagnostic accuracy studies in nephrology journals. Note: the authors do emphasize that the study was designed to assist practitioners in routine clinical practice, therefore the findings are not intended to support information retrieval for the production of systematic reviews, health technology assessments.

To create the reference set, two reviewers hand searched the 2002, 2003, 2009 and 2010 issues of three nephrology journals. These years were selected as a way to compare the performance of search filters before and after the release of the 2003 STAndards for Reporting Diagnostic accuracy studies (STARD) statements—a secondary objective of this study. The authors assessed the performance of 14 published diagnostic test accuracy filters in MEDLINE; limiting searches to the years and journals that created the reference set.

The reference set consisted of 103 diagnostic test accuracy studies. Of the 14 published filters assessed, the top performers in the following domains were:

Sensitivity: van der Weijden 1997 Extended search strategy overall (0.95; 95% CI 0.89-0.98)

Specificity: Haynes 2004 Narrow search strategy 0.99 (95% CI 0.99-0.99)

Best balance between sensitivity and specificity: Bachmann 2002 and van der Weijden 1997 Short strategy.

Limitations stated by the study author(s):

A small reference set was used to test filter performance, thus this study lacked the statistical power to detect increases in filter performances between 2002-2003 and 2009-2010 (stated secondary objective).

The authors acknowledged that restricting to three general nephrology journals may have impacted the reference set. Nephrology-related research is published in a wide range of journals, including the following disciplines: transplantation, urology, general medicine journals. Therefore, the findings of this study may not be generalizable to diagnostic filter performance in other journals.

Within the reference set, the authors acknowledged an underrepresentation of transplant patients; an important patient group within nephrology.

Limitations stated by the reviewer(s):

The authors failed to provide a rationale for the selection of the three journals used to create the reference set.


Diagnostic accuracy

Study type:

Single study

Supplemental publications to the study: