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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2011, Article ID 858246, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ecam/nep038
Original Article

Searching for Controlled Trials of Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Comparison of 15 Databases

1Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada
2Faculty of Information and Media Studies, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
3Department of Information Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK
4Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA
5Program for Assessment of Technology in Health, McMaster University, St Joseph's Healthcare, Hamilton, Canada
6Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Health Research Institute, Canada
7Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

Received 31 July 2007; Accepted 7 April 2009

Copyright © 2011 Elise Cogo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This project aims to assess the utility of bibliographic databases beyond the three major ones (MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane CENTRAL) for finding controlled trials of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Fifteen databases were searched to identify controlled clinical trials (CCTs) of CAM not also indexed in MEDLINE. Searches were conducted in May 2006 using the revised Cochrane highly sensitive search strategy (HSSS) and the PubMed CAM Subset. Yield of CAM trials per 100 records was determined, and databases were compared over a standardized period (2005). The Acudoc2 RCT, Acubriefs, Index to Chiropractic Literature (ICL) and Hom-Inform databases had the highest concentrations of non-MEDLINE records, with more than 100 non-MEDLINE records per 500. Other productive databases had ratios between 500 and 1500 records to 100 non-MEDLINE records—these were AMED, MANTIS, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Global Health and Alt HealthWatch. Five databases were found to be unproductive: AGRICOLA, CAIRSS, Datadiwan, Herb Research Foundation and IBIDS. Acudoc2 RCT yielded 100 CAM trials in the most recent 100 records screened. Acubriefs, AMED, Hom-Inform, MANTIS, PsycINFO and CINAHL had more than 25 CAM trials per 100 records screened. Global Health, ICL and Alt HealthWatch were below 25 in yield. There were 255 non-MEDLINE trials from eight databases in 2005, with only 10% indexed in more than one database. Yield varied greatly between databases; the most productive databases from both sampling methods were Acubriefs, Acudoc2 RCT, AMED and CINAHL. Low overlap between databases indicates comprehensive CAM literature searches will require multiple databases.