Should we search Chinese biomedical databases when performing systematic reviews?

Jérémie F. Cohen, Daniël A. Korevaar, Junfeng Wang, René Spijker, Patrick M. Bossuyt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Chinese biomedical databases contain a large number of publications available to systematic reviewers, but it is unclear whether they are used for synthesizing the available evidence. We report a case of two systematic reviews on the accuracy of anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis. In one of these, the authors did not search Chinese databases; in the other, they did. We additionally assessed the extent to which Cochrane reviewers have searched Chinese databases in a systematic overview of the Cochrane Library (inception to 2014). The two diagnostic reviews included a total of 269 unique studies, but only 4 studies were included in both reviews. The first review included five studies published in the Chinese language (out of 151) while the second included 114 (out of 118). The summary accuracy estimates from the two reviews were comparable. Only 243 of the published 8,680 Cochrane reviews (less than 3%) searched one or more of the five major Chinese databases. These Chinese databases index about 2,500 journals, of which less than 6% are also indexed in MEDLINE. All 243 Cochrane reviews evaluated an intervention, 179 (74%) had at least one author with a Chinese affiliation; 118 (49%) addressed a topic in complementary or alternative medicine. Although searching Chinese databases may lead to the identification of a large amount of additional clinical evidence, Cochrane reviewers have rarely included them in their search strategy. We encourage future initiatives to evaluate more systematically the relevance of searching Chinese databases, as well as collaborative efforts to allow better incorporation of Chinese resources in systematic reviews
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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