Can English-speaking reviewers correctly identify foreign-language articles that meet eligibility criteria for a systematic review of management for fibromyalgia?

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Abstract text
Background: Systematic reviews endeavor to capture all publications that meet pre-defined eligibility criteria. Non-English studies may present resource challenges in meeting this goal. If English-speaking reviewers could differentiate eligible from ineligible foreign language publications it would limit demands for participation in the review from those speaking other languages.

Objectives: We are exploring whether English-speaking reviewers can differentiate eligible from ineligible foreign-language studies in a systematic review of all treatments for fibromyalgia.

Methods: We searched AMED, CIHAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, HealthSTAR, PsycINFO, Papers First, Proceedings First and CENTRAL from inception of each database to April 2011. Eligible studies randomly assigned patients with fibromyalgia to any form of therapy or a control group.

Results: We retrieved 20,747 unique citations of which 765 were potentially eligible and were retrieved in full text; the 135 non-English full text articles represented 19 different languages. Pairs of reviewers fluent in the language of publication evaluated all foreign-language full text articles for final eligibility, independently and in duplicate. Fifty-three foreign language articles (39%) proved eligible, representing 12% of all eligible trials (53 of 431). Using explicit criteria to guide decision-making, including authors’ report of study design in the title or abstract when published in English, report of a Consort flow diagram, and the presence of a table presenting a comparison of baseline characteristics between groups, pairs of English-speaking reviewers, blinded to eligibility status, are in the process of evaluating the 135 foreign-language articles regarding their eligibility for the review. Results will be available at the time of the Colloquium.

Conclusions: Our findings should prove helpful for informing whether English-speaking reviewers are able to identify foreign-language studies that are eligible for data abstraction. If successful, our findings may provide a strategy to increase the feasibility of, and minimize resources associated with, including foreign-language studies in systematic reviews.
Authors
Busse J1, Ngo T2, Torrance D2, Kirmayr K3, Avrahami D2, Riva J1, Ebrahim S1, Struijs P4, Malik K5, Bruno P6, Brunarski D7, Burnie S2, LeBlanc F8, Connell G2, Coomes E1, Steenstra I9, Montori V10, Guyatt G1
1 Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada
2 Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Canada
3 Department of Internal Medicine, German Hospital, Buenos Aires, Argentina
4 Academic Medical Center, department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
5 School of Rehabilitation Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
6 Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies, University of Regina, Regina, Canada
7 Ontario Chiropractic Association, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
8 The Canadian Chiropractic Association, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
9 Institute for Work and Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
10 Division of Preventive Medicine and the Knowledge and Evaluation Research Unit, 200 First Street SW, 55905 Rochester, MN, USA
Presenting author and contact person
Presenting author: 
Shanil Ebrahim
Contact person Affiliation Country
Jason Busse (Contact this person) McMaster University Canada
Shanil Ebrahim (Contact this person) McMaster University Canada