Added 2010-07-09: It is possible to enter the set numbers again, but the results are not yet reliable. They are probably working on it.
Last Wednesday (June 30th 2010) the PubMed Clinical Queries were redesigned.
Clinical Queries are prefab search filters that enable you to find aggregate evidence (Systematic Reviews-filter) or articles in a certain domain (Clinical study category-filters: like diagnosis and therapy), as well as papers in the field of Medical Genetics (not shown below).
This was how it looked:
Since there were several different boxes you had to re-enter your search each time you tried another filter.
Now the Clinical Queries page has been reconfigured with columns to preview the first five citations of the results for all three research areas.
So this is how it looks now (search= PCOS spironolactone cyproterone hirsutism (PubMed automatically connects with “AND”))
Most quick responses to the change are “Neat”, “improved”, “tightened up”…….
This change might be a stylistic improvement for those who are used to enter words in the clinical queries without optimizing the search. At least you see “what you get”, you can preview the results of 3 filters, and you can still see “all” results by clicking on “see all”. However, if you want to see the all results of another filter, you still have to go back to the clinical queries again.
But… I was not pleased to notice that it is no longer possible to enter a set number (i.e. #9) in the clinical queries search bar.
….Especially since the actual change was just before the start of an EBM-search session. I totally relied on this feature….
Furthermore the clinical study category is now default on “therapy broad” instead of narrow. This means a lot more noise: the broad filter searches for (all) clinical trials, while the narrow filter is meant to find randomized controlled trials only.
Normally I optimize the search first before entering the final search set number into the clinical queries.(see Tip 9 of “10+1 Pubmed tips for residents and their instructors“). For instance, the above search would not include PCOS (which doesn’t map to the proper MeSH and isn’t required) and cyproterone, but would consist of hirsutism AND spironolactone (both mapping to the appropriate MeSH).
The set number of the “optimized” search is then entered in the search box of the Systematic Review filter. This yields 9 more hits, including Cochrane systematic reviews. The narrow therapy filter gives more hits, that are more relevant as well (24).
The example that is shown in the NLM technical bulletin (dementia stroke) yields 142 systematic reviews and 1318 individual trials of which only the 5 most recent trials are shown. Not very helpful to doctors and scientists, IMHO.
Anyway, we “lost” a (roundabout) way- to optimize the search before entering it into the search box.
The preview of 3 boxes is o.k., the looks are o.k. but why is this functionality lost?
For the moment I decided to teach my class another option that I use myself: adding clinical queries to your personal NCBI account so that the filters show up each time you perform a search in PubMed ( this post describes how to do it).
It only takes some time to make NCBI accounts and to explain the procedure to the class, time you would like to save for the searches themselves (in a 1-2 hr workshop). But it is the most practical solution.
We notified PubMed, but it is not clear whether they plan to restore this function.
Note: 2010-07-09: It is possible to enter the set numbers again, but the results are not yet reliable. They are probably working on it.
Still, for advanced users, adding filters to your NCBI may be most practical.
*re-entering spironolactone and hirsutism in the clinical queries is doable here, but often the search is more complex and different per filter. For instance I might add a third concept when looking for an individual trial.