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Creating a Formula for Precise, Effective Literature Searching
Posted on July 31st, 2017 by Neal Katz in Pharmacovigilance
Even those who are old enough to remember the days before the internet might find it hard to imagine living our lives now without access to digital information tools. People working in pharmacovigilance today may actually shudder at the thought of having to do their jobs without biomedical research solutions. In fact, without these kinds of resources, it would be impossible to meet the high standards set by the FDA and EMA, who expect market authorization holders to find 100% of the adverse drug reactions (ADRs) records in the literature.
Two of the best resources to turn to for identifying ADRs are the abstracting and indexing (A&I) databases Embase and PubMed, which index the literature with terms that make it easier for literature monitoring professionals to conduct effective searches. These databases also allow users to set up automatic searches and alerts, so pharmacovigilance experts are not constantly forced to take the time to run important ADR searches manually.
But even with the aid of crucial research solutions like Embase, it is important to get the search formula right. As the white paper “Designing and Validating Effective Search Formulas for Literature Monitoring” explains, you need to design a search formula that will retrieve ALL relevant records so that no ADRs are missed – in other words, you want 100% recall. But for the sake of efficiency, you also don’t want to retrieve too many records that are irrelevant to your needs, which means you need your search to be as precise as possible.
The goal, then, is to find a balance that ensures perfect recall while also maintaining high precision. While this is certainly a challenge, it is one that can be met by carefully designing (or revising) your search formula.
All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.
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