Background: Clinical pathways can effectively improve organisation efficiency and maximise patient outcome through organising and standardising care processes. Their retrieval from databases remains problematic and this presents a barrier to their uptake in medical practice.
Objectives: In order to provide guidance for making standard retrieval strategies of clinical pathways by analysing the differences in existing search methods in systematic reviews.
Methods:A medical subject headings (MeSH) terms search was performed in PubMed with critical pathways and systematical review. The articles included systematic review of clinical pathways. Selection of the studies and data extract was performed in EndNote and Microsoft Excel 2007 respectively. We extracted study characteristics (e.g. author, year of publication), search methods (e.g. search method, search words, search strategy).
Results: Twenty-three articles met the inclusion criteria, including a total of 24 clinical pathway search terms (show in Table 1). Search methods of 10 (43%) of the included studies were medical subject headings (MeSH) and a non-MeSH search (free text terms or key words); 3 (13%) only the medical subject headings (MeSH); 2 (9%) only non-MeSH search; 8 (35%) no-information search method.
Conclusions: Our findings shows there is a great difference in the retrieval strategies of the existing clinical pathways. In order to conduct systematics reviews conveniently and efficiently for researchers, policy makers and stakeholders in the database system, it is necessary to develop optimal retrieval strategies for retrieving clinical pathways.