“You Ask #PEDroAnswers” search tip #9 – Screen titles first, then look at abstracts

Throughout 2021 we will be sharing some tips on how to use the PEDro Advanced Search. The ninth tip is “Screen titles first, then look at abstracts”.

After you’ve run a search, it’s time to screen the articles listed on the “Search Results” page to find the article that best answers your clinical question.

The “Search Results” page displays the list of articles identified by your search. The results are displayed in a table which lists the title, the research method, and for randomised controlled trials, the total PEDro score (/10) for each article that fulfils your search criteria.

The “Search Results” are organised so that articles that use more rigorous methods appear closer to the top of the table. The articles are sorted by research method, with practice guidelines appearing before systematic reviews and then randomised controlled trials. Cochrane reviews are listed before systematic reviews published in other journals. Clinical trials are sorted by the total PEDro score, from the highest (10/10) to the lowest (0/10) score. Articles are also sorted by year of publication, from most to least recent, within each category.

As you read down the list of articles, from practice guidelines, systematic reviews, and higher-quality trials, pay close attention to the title as your first point of reference. Screening the titles first before looking at the abstracts can help save time by ignoring articles that don’t answer your question. This is because the title should generally provide enough information to inform you whether the article is related to your clinical question or not.

Once you identify a title which looks promising, clicking on the title hyperlink will take you to the “Detailed Search Results” page. This page provides more detailed information about the article, including the citation, abstract (when available), links to full text and, for randomised controlled trials, a breakdown of the PEDro score.

Reading the abstract will help to confirm whether the article answers your clinical question, if the methods used were rigorous and if there is clear reporting of the results. Some tips on how to quickly appraise the quality of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, systematic reviews and randomised controlled trials are available in previous PEDro blogs.

When you decide on the best article to read, you can access a full text copy of the article (sometimes free) using the links under the abstract on the “Detailed Search Results” page.

We’ve recently revised the PEDro video tutorial on how to do an Advanced Search.

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