Systematic Reviews (SRs), when they’re well done and current, are considered the ‘gold standard’ of medical evidence. As you can see from our evidence “pyramid,” which illustrates the varying levels of evidence starting with the least clinically relevant level of evidence at the bottom, SRs are the most clinically relevant at the top. Authors of a systematic review pose a specific clinical question, perform a comprehensive literature search, eliminate the poorly done studies, and attempt to make practice recommendations based on the well-done studies.
Systematic reviews sponsored by the Cochrane Collaboration can be found in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews - but they and other independently published SRs can also be found in MEDLINE. "The Cochrane Collaboration, established in 1993, is an international network of people helping healthcare providers, policy makers, patients, their advocates and carers, make well-informed decisions about human health care by preparing, updating and promoting the accessibility of Cochrane Reviews – over 4,000 so far, published online in The Cochrane Library."
The searching method in PubMed MEDLINE:
From the Biomedical Libraries Web, click on PubMed, under "Resources."
Click on Clinical Queries under "PubMed Tools." Clinical Queries is a subset of PubMed; search filters are added to your search strategy behind the scenes. Note the Systematic Reviews filter (see below) includes "citations for systematic reviews, meta-analyses, reviews of clinical trials, evidence-based medicine, consensus development conferences, and guidelines." This is more than what we want, but will require less weeding than would a regular PubMed search.
Type your search query into the search box – then click on “See All” at the bottom of the Systematic Reviews list.
At this point you can add limits (e.g., age group, publication dates, language) if you wish.
Systematic Reviews can similarly be searched in Ovid MEDLINE; Clinical Queries can be found on the Limits page.
For more information contact a Biomedical Libraries librarian by email Biomedical.Libraries.Reference@dartmouth.edu, phone (650-7660), or stop by the Dana Circulation Desk or Matthews-Fuller Library Reference Desk.