What are the highest yielding search strategy terms for systematic reviews in atopic dermatitis? A systematic review

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Archives of Dermatological Research




Atopic dermatitis; Eczema; Evidence-based medicine; Meta-analysis; Neurodermatitis


© 2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. The impact of search strategies on systematic reviews (SR) of atopic dermatitis (AD) is unknown. The purpose of this review was to evaluate search strategies used in SR of AD and their impact on the frequency of manuscripts identified. MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched for SR related to AD. Simulations were performed by running combinations of search terms in MEDLINE and EMBASE. Overall, 250 SR met inclusion criteria, of which 225 specified search strategies. SR using 5–6 terms (20.0% to 12.1%) or ≥ 7 (40.0% to 18.8%) terms decreased, whereas SR using 3–4 terms numerically increased (18.8% to 30.2%) and 1–2 terms remained similar (37.5% to 38.9%) from 1999–2009 to 2015–2019. The most commonly searched terms were “atopic dermatitis” (n = 166), followed by “eczema” (n = 156), “dermatitis atopic’” (n = 81), “atopic eczema” (n = 74), “neurodermatitis” (n = 59), “Besniers prurigo” (n = 29), “infantile eczema” (n = 27), and “childhood eczema” (n = 19). Simulations revealed that “eczema” and “atopic dermatitis” yielded the most hits. The number of search terms that maximized hits in MEDLINE and EMBASE was 5 and 4, respectively. Search strategies for AD were heterogeneous, with high proportions of search strategies providing few search hits. Future studies should use standardized and optimized search terms.