Finding Qualitative Research Evidence for Health Technology Assessment
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Health technology assessment (HTA) agencies increasingly use reviews of qualitative research as evidence for evaluating social, experiential, and ethical aspects of health technologies. We systematically searched three bibliographic databases (MEDLINE, CINAHL, and Social Science Citation Index [SSCI]) using published search filters or "hedges" and our hybrid filter to identify qualitative research studies pertaining to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and early breast cancer. The search filters were compared in terms of sensitivity, specificity, and precision. Our screening by title and abstract revealed that qualitative research constituted only slightly more than 1% of all published research on each health topic. The performance of the published search filters varied greatly across topics and databases. Compared with existing search filters, our hybrid filter demonstrated a consistently high sensitivity across databases and topics, and minimized the resource-intensive process of sifting through false positives. We identify opportunities for qualitative health researchers to improve the uptake of qualitative research into evidence-informed policy making.
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