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EBM Databases, Limits, Publication & Study Types

Ovid EBM Limits | Publication Types | Study Types | Search Hints | Useful MeSH for EBM


Many of the following evidence-based-medicine databases require a Tufts username or Library Login ID for access.

  • ACP Journal Club
    Produced by the American College of Physicians, it screens the top clinical journals to identify studies that are both methodologically sound and clinically relevant. The result is an enhanced abstract of the chosen article and a commentary on its value for clinical practice. For further details, see Ovid's Field Guide.

  • ACP Smart Medicine
    Produced by the American College of Physicians, this evidence-based collection of disease modules can be searched, or browsed alphabetically or by organ system on Stat!Ref. It also contains the AHFS Drug Information Essentials

  • BMJ Clinical Evidence
    Produced by BMJ Publishing Group. It summarises the current state of knowledge and uncertainty about the prevention and treatment of common or important clinical conditions, based on thorough searches and appraisal of the literature. It is neither a textbook of medicine nor a set of guidelines. It describes the best available evidence from systematic reviews, RCTs and observational studies where appropriate. If there is no good evidence it says so.

  • Clinical Queries in MEDLINE (NLM)
    Intended for clinicians, this specialized search uses the following four filters to search the MEDLINE database: therapy, diagnosis, etiology, or prognosis. Users can search for systematic reviews and meta-analyses on a search topic, as well as search by sensitivity or specificity.

  • Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials
    A bibliography of controlled trials identified by the Cochrane Collaboration and others, as part of an international effort to hand search the world's journals and create an unbiased source of data for systematic reviews. It includes reports published in conference proceedings and in many other sources not currently listed in MEDLINE or other bibliographic databases.  For further details, see Ovid's Field Guide.

  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
    Its full-text articles reviewing the effects of healthcare are highly structured and systematic. To minimize bias evidence is included or excluded on the basis of explicit criteria. Data are often combined statistically (with meta-analysis) to increase the power of the findings of numerous studies, each too small to produce reliable results individually. For further details, see Ovid's Field Guide.

  • The Cochrane Library
    "The Cochrane Library is a collection of databases that contain high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision making. Cochrane Reviews represent the highest level of evidence on which to base clinical treatment decisions."

  • Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects
    Includes structured abstracts of systematic reviews from around the world, which have been critically appraised by reviewers at the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at the University of York, England. DARE also contains references to other reviews which may be useful for background information. For further details, see Ovid's Field Guide.

  • DynaMed (EBSCO)
    A reference tool created by physicians for use primarily at the 'point-of-care', DynaMed is updated daily and monitors the content of over 500 medical journals and systematic-review databases. Its references link to some free articles but otherwise to PubMed records. To access the full text of our licensed articles, open another browser window, login to our customized PubMed, and click on the blue icon for Tufts Electronic Holdings.
  • Health Technology Assessment (NHS)
    Contains information on healthcare technology assessments and is produced by the International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment and the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination. The database contains systematic reviews, ongoing and completed research based on trials, questionnaires and economic evaluations. Where possible, the research type is stated in the title or abstract.

  • NHS Economic Evaluation Database (NHS EED)
    Funded by the Departments of Health of England and Wales to assist decision-makers by systematically identifying and describing economic evaluations, appraising their quality and highlighting their relative strengths and weaknesses. Contains over 6000 abstracts of quality- assessed economic evaluations.

  • OTseeker (UQueensland/USydney)
    Contains abstracts of systematic reviews and randomised controlled trials relevant to occupational therapy. Trials have been critically appraised and rated to help users evaluate their validity and interpretability.

  • Physiotherapy Evidence Database (CEBP)
    Developed to give rapid access to bibliographic details and abstracts of randomised controlled trials and systematic reviews in physiotherapy. Most trials on the database have been rated for quality.

  • TRIP Database
    Evidence-based medical and dental resources from systematic searches of the internet, reports in the literature, self-reporting by site owners and other recommendations. Because the sites are evaluated by an in-house team of information experts and clinicians and external experts to assess quality and clinical usefulness its search has potential to be more focusd and relevant than a Google or Google Scholar search. Also has separate sections for medical images and patient information leaflets.

Ovid EBM Limits

  • EBM Reviews
    • Use this limit to narrow an Ovid MEDLINE search to only those articles that are considered "evidence-based" by experts.
    • Restricts MEDLINE retrieval to:
      • Topic reviews from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Click Ovid Full Text.
      • Articles or studies that have been included by the Cochrane Collaboration when creating a Systematic Review. Click Find It@Tuftsfor links to either full text or print availability of articles; click Topic Review to read the Cochrane Systematic Review.
      • Articles that have been reviewed in the ACP Journal Club or the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effectiveness (DARE). Click Find It@Tufts for links to either full text or print availability of the article; click Article Review to read the full text of the review.
    • Limits to these databases may be applied separately or in combinations on the More Limits screen.
  • Systematic Reviews
    • A systematic review is a summary of the medical literature that uses explicit methods to perform a thorough literature search and critical appraisal of individual studies and that uses appropriate statistical techniques to combine these valid studies. Systematic reviews are not all equal, and quality issues are important. (Bandolier glossary)
    • This limit on Ovid MEDLINE's More Limits screen under Subject Subsets retrieves citations identified as systematic reviews, meta-analyses, reviews of clinical trials, evidence-based medicine, consensus-development conferences, guidelines, and citations to articles from journals specializing in review studies of value to clinicians.
    • For further details see the NLM search strategy.
  • Clinical Queries
    • This set of limits, adapted from PubMed's, is found on the More Limits screen.
    • These search filters retrieve with sensitivity (the broadest net), specificity (the narrowest), or optimized strategies.
    • For details, see Ovid's translation of Brian Haynes' strategies.

MEDLINE Publication Types

The following limits are located on Ovid MEDLINE's More Limits screen under Publication Types. For a complete list of definitions, see the National Library of Medicine's Publication Types: Scope Notes.

  • Case Reports
    Clinical presentations that may be followed by evaluative studies that eventually lead to a diagnosis. Use this publication type to retrieve case series. According to SE Strauss et al. (Evidence-Based Medicine: How to Practice and Teach EBM, 2005), a case series reports "on a series of patients with an outcome of interest. No control group is involved."
  • Meta-Analysis
    Work consisting of studies using a quantitative method of combining the results of independent studies (usually drawn from the published literature) and synthesizing summaries and conclusions which may be used to evaluate therapeutic effectiveness, plan new studies, etc. It is often an overview of clinical trials. It is usually called a meta-analysis by the author or sponsoring body and should be differentiated from reviews of literature.
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    Work consisting of a clinical trial that involves at least one test treatment and one control treatment, concurrent enrollment and follow-up of the test- and control-treated groups, and in which the treatments to be administered are selected by a random process, such as the use of a random-numbers table. Treatment allocations using coin flips, odd-even numbers, patient social security numbers, days of the week, medical record numbers, or other such pseudo- or quasi-random processes, are not truly randomized and a trial employing any of these techniques for patient assignment is designated simply a Controlled Clinical Trial.
  • Practice Guideline
    Work consisting of a set of directions or principles to assist the health care practitioner with patient care decisions about appropriate diagnostic, therapeutic, or other clinical procedures for specific clinical circumstances. Practice guidelines may be developed by government agencies at any level, institutions, organizations such as professional societies or governing boards, or by the convening of expert panels. They can provide a foundation for assessing and evaluating the quality and effectiveness of health care in terms of measuring improved health, reduction of variation in services or procedures performed, and reduction of variation in outcomes of health care delivered.

MeSH for EBM Study Types

AND the following MeSH with your search results to retrieve EBM studies for prognosis and etiology/harm questions. MEDLINE does not have publication-type limits for these studies.

  • Case-Control Studies (explosion includes Retrospective Studies)
    Studies which start with the identification of persons with a disease of interest and a control (comparison, referent) group without the disease. The relationship of an attribute to the disease is examined by comparing diseased and non-diseased persons with regard to the frequency or levels of the attribute in each group.
  • Cohort Studies (explosion includes Longitudinal Studies, Follow-Up Studies, and Prospective Studies)
    Studies in which subsets of a defined population are identified. These groups may or may not be exposed to factors hypothesized to influence the probability of the occurrence of a particular disease or other outcome. Cohorts are defined populations which, as a whole, are followed in an attempt to determine distinguishing subgroup characteristics.
  • Prospective Studies
    Studies which observe a population for a sufficient number of persons over a sufficient number of years to generate incidence or mortality rates subsequent to the selection of the study group.
  • Retrospective Studies
    Studies used to test etiologic hypotheses in which inferences about an exposure to putative causal factors are derived from data relating to characteristics of persons under study or to events or experiences in their past. The essential feature is that some of the persons under study have the disease or outcome of interest and their characteristics are compared with those of unaffected persons.

Hints for Searching Ovid MEDLINE

  • Limits on both the Main Search page and the More Limits page are combined with AND.
  • On the More Limits page, Ovid combines limits within the boxes with OR.
    • Select several limits in a box with Ctrl+click.