Search strategies in systematic reviews in periodontology and implant dentistry


  • Conflict of interest and source of funding statement

    The authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.

    The first author is the Colgate Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago. This position is partially supported by an unrestricted grant from Colgate-Palmolive New Zealand to the University of Otago. The authors received no special funding for conducting this study.


Clovis Mariano Faggion Jr

Faculty of Dentistry

University of Otago

PO Box 647, Dunedin 9054

New Zealand




To perform an overview of literature search strategies in systematic reviews (SRs) published in periodontology and implant dentistry.

Materials and Methods

Two electronic databases (PubMed and Cochrane Database of SRs) were searched, independently and in duplicate, for SRs with meta-analyses on interventions, with the last search performed on 11 November 2012. Manual searches of the reference lists of included SRs and 10 specialty dental journals were conducted. Methodological issues of the search strategies of included SRs were assessed with Cochrane collaboration guidelines and AMSTAR recommendations. The search strategies employed in Cochrane and paper-based SRs were compared.


A total of 146 SRs with meta-analyses were included, including 19 Cochrane and 127 paper-based SRs. Some issues, such as “the use of keywords,” were reported in most of the SRs (86%). Other issues, such as “search of grey literature” and “language restriction,” were not fully reported (34% and 50% respectively). The quality of search strategy reporting in Cochrane SRs was better than that of paper-based SRs for seven of the eight criteria assessed.


There is room for improving the quality of reporting of search strategies in SRs in periodontology and implant dentistry, particularly in SRs published in paper-based journals.