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Using Embase as a supplement to PubMed in Cochrane reviews differed across fields.

  • Frandsen, Tove Faber1
  • Eriksen, Mette Brandt2
  • Hammer, David Mortan Grøne3
  • Christensen, Janne Buck4
  • Wallin, Johan Albert5
  • 1 Department of Design and Communication, University of Southern Denmark, Universitetsparken 1, DK-6000 Kolding, Denmark. Electronic address: [email protected] , (Denmark)
  • 2 The University Library of Southern Denmark, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense M, Denmark. , (Denmark)
  • 3 University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense M, Denmark; Goethe-Universität, Robert-Mayer-Straße 11-15, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany. , (Germany)
  • 4 Department of Quality and Improvement, South-West Jutland Hospital, Finsensgade 35, 6700 Esbjerg, Denmark. , (Denmark)
  • 5 Faculty of Health Science, Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Research Unit of General Practice, J.B. Winsløwsvej 9, 5000 Odense C, Denmark. , (Denmark)
Published Article
Journal of clinical epidemiology
Publication Date
May 01, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2020.12.022
PMID: 33359253


Medline/PubMed is often first choice for health science researchers when doing literature searches. However, Medline/PubMed does not cover the health science research literature equally well across specialties. Embase is often considered an important supplement to Medline/PubMed in health sciences. The present study analyzes the coverage of Embase as a supplement to PubMed, and the aim of the study is to investigate if searching Embase can compensate for low PubMed retrieval. The population in this study is all the included studies in all Cochrane reviews from 2012 to 2016 across the 53 Cochrane groups. The analyses were performed using two units of analysis (study and publication). We are examining the coverage in Embase of publications and studies not covered by PubMed (25,119 publications and 9,420 studies). The results showed that using Embase as a supplement to PubMed resulted in a coverage of 66,994 publications out of 86,167 and a coverage rate of 77.7, 95% CI [75.05, 80.45] of all the included publications. Embase combined with PubMed covered 48,326 out of 54,901 studies and thus had a coverage rate of 88.0%, 95% CI [86.2, 89.9] of studies. The results also showed that supplementing PubMed with Embase increased coverage of included publications by 6.8 percentage points, and the coverage of studies increased by 5.5 percentage points. Substantial differences were found across and within review groups over time. The included publications and studies in some groups are covered considerably better by supplementing with Embase, whereas in other groups, the difference in coverage is negligible. However, due to the variation over time, one should be careful predicting the benefit from supplementing PubMed with Embase to retrieve relevant publications to include in a review. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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