Search filters can find some but not all knowledge translation articles in MEDLINE: an analytic survey
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OBJECTIVE: Advances from health research are not well applied giving rise to over- and underuse of resources and inferior care. Knowledge translation (KT), actions and processes of getting research findings used in practice, can improve research application. The KT literature is difficult to find because of nonstandardized terminology, rapid evolution of the field, and it is spread across several domains. We created multiple search filters to retrieve KT articles from MEDLINE. STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: Analytic survey using articles from 12 journals tagged as having KT content and also as describing a KT application or containing a KT theory. RESULTS: Of 2,594 articles, 579 were KT articles of which 201 were about KT applications and 152 about KT theory. Search filter sensitivity (retrieval efficiency) maximized at 83%-94% with specificity (no retrieval of irrelevant material) approximately 50%. Filter performances were enhanced with multiple terms, but these filters often had reduced specificity. Performance was higher for KT applications and KT theory articles. These filters can select KT material although many irrelevant articles also will be retrieved. CONCLUSION: KT search filters were developed and tested, with good sensitivity but suboptimal specificity. Further research must improve their performance.
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