The selection of appropriate search queries is a primary step to explore electronic databases for evidence-based practice. Preliminary searches revealed that no previous scientific study introduced a precise search query to identify prosthetic and orthotic studies in the electronic databases.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of different variations of the “brace” term for identifying the relevant studies in the orthotics field.
This is a cross-sectional study.
A series of electronic searches in Scopus and Web of Science was carried out using all variations of “brace” term, which were previously used in published reviews in the prosthetics and orthotics field. The yields were classified into relevant and irrelevant subject areas. The rate of the relevant subject area was used to define the specificity of the free-text literature search. To define a standard search query for the “brace” term, the specificity of yields was measured while combining them with another common keyword in the same subject area (orthosis) or limiting the yields to human studies.
“Brace” term was very widely used within different studies with an irrelevant subject area. Using truncation techniques with “brace” could reduce the precision of the subject area in the yields. The combination of “brace” with a synonym subject heading term increased the sensitivity of search, and refining search results through applying a filter (e.g., human studies) improved the precision of yields.
This study indicated that using “brace” as a free-text literature search does not have enough precision to recall relevant studies in the prosthetics and orthotics field.