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Investigating the use of the McMaster Premium LiteratUre Service (PLUS) as a method to efficiently update systematic reviews

Date and Location




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


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Abha Athale

Contact person

Abha Athale
Alfonso Iorio
Abstract text
Background: Systematic reviews (SRs) of treatment effects are evidence syntheses that inform clinical practice decisions and healthcare policy by providing the best answer to a clinical question. To maintain validity, SRs should be regularly updated to include novel research, which is why timely updating of SRs is a primary goal of the Cochrane Collaboration. In reality, updating practices are irregular, with resource and time constraints cited as major barriers. The McMaster Premium LiteratUre Service (PLUS) is a database of high quality, pre-appraised evidence, which has been shown to be of potential help in efficient updating of SRs. Objective: To determine the performance of PLUS to locate studies that drove a change in the conclusions of updated Cochrane SRs. Methods: All updated Cochrane SRs, published from January 2012 to January 2013, with conclusions changed from prior versions will be included in this study. We will identify the new references in the updated version. We will classify SRs based on the type of conclusion change (ie change in magnitude or direction of treatment effect), and identify mean number of new trials and new patients added (both expressed as absolute number and proportion of total trials). We will determine which new references are captured by PLUS, and how excluding references, not captured by PLUS, impacts the conclusions for each review. Results: From January 2012 to January 2013, 31 Review Groups published 96 SRs with changed conclusions. Overall approximately 900 new studies were added. Detailed study results will be available by mid-2013. Results will include characteristics of SRs with changed conclusions, proportion of new studies captured by PLUS, and impact on conclusions of excluding studies not included in PLUS. Significance: The results of this study will provide empirical knowledge about characteristics of updated Cochrane SRs and a method to improve efficiency of updating SRs.