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Pre-built search strategies are a set of keywords and subject headings that are designed to retrieve specific types of records, for example, papers of a particular methodological design or specific health subject area. You can incorporate pre-built searches into your own search strategy. 

Note: Pre-built searches are also referred to as search filters, search hedges or clinical queries.

Why use pre-built searches?

  • They are usually developed by experts, and pre-tested against a gold set of high quality papers.
  • They are usually validated to meet a minimum level of article retrieval sensitivity and precision.
  • They represent a quick and efficient way to search for common medical topics and study methodologies

Subject Filters
NSQHS Standards – Live Literature Searches

Topics aligned to the Australian National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards. Easy to use, one click brings up results in PubMed.

Expert Searches - Ovid Medline & Embase

A range of current health topics including Monkeypox, covid, measles, sepsis, health literacy, gender, children, elderly, pregnancy, adverse effects, pharmacovigilance. Also includes study design filters for Medline and Embase. Quick and easy to use, one click opens search in Ovid platform.

Flinders Filters Subject filters such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, dementia, heart failure, lung cancer, stroke etc. This resource is easy to use but requires a few clicks to get to the filters
Care Search Palliative Care Also includes the Heart Failure Search Filter, the Lung Cancer Search Filter, the Dementia Search Filter and the Bereavement Search Filter, for Ovid Medline and for PubMed, as well as the palliAGED Residential Aged Care Search Filter.
Topic-Specific PubMed Queries Includes subject based filters including bioethics, cancer, health literacy, toxicology.

Study Design Filters

Pre-built filters used to refine by study design such as clinical trials, systematic reviews, meta-analysis, observational, qualitative, health technology assessments etc.

CADTH Search Filters Database Developed by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health. Filters for study designs as well as subjects including adverse events, quality of life, economic, guidelines. Different database translations. Quick and easy to use.
The ISSG Search Filter Resource  Developed for research groups within England and Scotland. Filters for study designs as well as subjects including quality of life, guidelines, age, gender, sample size. Different database translation. This resource requires a few clicks to get to the filters.
PubMed Clinical Queries Refine PubMed searches based on theory, etiology, diagnosis, prognosis and clinical prediction guide queries. Note: The Systematic Reviews filter is on the main PubMed search results page - under the "Article Type" filter
Expert Searches - Ovid Medline & Embase Systematic Review, RCT and Observational study design filters for Medline and Embase. Quick and easy to use, one click opens search in Ovid platform.

Considerations when using pre-built search filters

  • Is it current? Subject headings and field codes can change over time
  • Is it relevant to your review topic and inclusion criteria?
  • What methods were used to develop it and has it been validated?
  • Was it created by an expert information manager/librarian or research group?

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