Published: Searching for qualitative health research required several databases and alternative search strategies – Journal of Clinical Epidemiology

Objective: Retrieving the qualitative literature can be challenging, but the number and specific choice of databases are key factors. The aim of the present study is to provide guidance for the choice of databases for retrieving qualitative health research. Study Design and Setting: Seventy-one qualitative systematic reviews, from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and JBI database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports, including 927 qualitative studies, were used to analyze the coverage of the qualitative literature in nine bibliographic databases. Results: The results show that 94.4% of the qualitative studies are indexed in at least one database, with a lower coverage for publication types other than journal articles. Maximum recall with two databases is 89.1%, with three databases recall increases to 92% and
maximum recall with four databases is 93.1%. The remaining 6.9% of the publications consists of 1.3% scattered across five databases and 5.6% that are not indexed in any of the nine databases used in this study. Conclusion: Retrieval in one or a few although well selected databases does not provide all the relevant qualitative studies. The remaining studies needs to be located using several other databases and alternative search strategies.
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