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Finding evidence from developing countries: the use of regional databases and other search sources

Date and Location




Saturday 21 September 2013 - 10:30 - 12:00


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Mukdarut Bangpan

Contact person

Mukdarut Bangpan
Kelly Dickson
Abstract text
Background: The past few years has seen the number of systematic reviews relevant to developing countries increase substantially. It is essential that systematic reviews include all available, relevant evidence to minimize bias and maximize the generalisability of their findings across settings. Recently, The Norwegian satellite of the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care (EPOC) group and its partners produced a collection of search sources relevant to developing countries. Objective: To explore the usage of regional databases and other search sources used in systematic reviews relevant to developing countries focusing on healthcare. Method: We identified Cochrane Systematic Reviews using ‘developing countries’ terms in both free text and MeSH term searches. The retrieved citations were imported into EPPI-Reviewer software. Data on databases and search sources were coded and analysed. Result: We identified 34 relevant systematic reviews; 32 were published in the past five years. Nearly two-thirds (n= 23) carried out searches in regional databases. The most commonly searched regional database was LILACS (n=20), followed by MEDCARIB (n=3) and African Index Medicus (n=3). Nearly half also searched topic-specific databases (e.g. ERIC, POPLINE, AGRIS). Searches in grey literature (e.g. dissertations, conference proceeding databases), international development specialists (e.g. ELDIS, BLDS) and non-English databases (e.g. Banque de Données Santé Publique database) were less common. Further sourcing methods included references checking, website searching and personal contact with experts, authors, and/or relevant organisations. Conclusion: Identifying relevant research evidence in developing countries is challenging. Most systematic reviews identified searched only one regional database, namely LILACS. There is potential to improve search strategies by including other regional databases and other search sources to identify relevant research evidence in health in developing countries