A new research project being funded by the Lowitja Institute is looking at making literature retrieval on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health as easy as clicking on a web link. Led by a research team from Flinders University, an Institute partner, it is hoped the work will lead to the development of a health search filter by the second half of 2013.
Efficient and rapid access to relevant, up-to-date information underpins efforts to translate what is known from research evidence into clinical and social practice to benefit patients, the health and social systems, and the community. However, being able to retrieve literature that could improve Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health depends on the searching skills and experience of the person seeking the evidence, and how and where articles are published and indexed. In short, finding relevant literature easily and quickly can be challenging.
One of the researchers involved in this project, Dr Ruth Sladek, has already done some preliminary work on using a filter concept to find evidence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. This research compared about 30 expert searchers and showed only a 52 per cent mean searching effectiveness rate – all pointing to how hard it is to find the peer-reviewed literature in this field.
Flinders Filters is a specialist research team that looks at creating searching solutions to facilitate access to the underlying literature and knowledge base in various health specialties and academic disciplines. Central to this work is the development of search filters, or experimentally developed searches with a tested level of retrieval efficiency. A search filter developed to retrieve literature on a specific topic, such as Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, can then be used by any searcher to find literature on this topic reliably.
While the experimental filter development work is undertaken in Ovid Medline, translating and validating the search filter for use in health research database PubMed will provide users with a ‘one click’ solution, as the search can be automatically loaded into this database which has more than 21 million biomedical citations.
The work in developing the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health search filter will be assisted by the input and advice of a Reference Group of health providers, researchers, academics and students. Once the search filter has been developed, options for incorporating the search filter into the Lowitja website will be explored. The research will also provide information on how searching for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health literature in other bibliographic databases and on the web can be improved.
Also see Project page: Models of rapid synthesis – Australian Aboriginal health search portal