Quasi-experimental study designs series-paper 8: identifying quasi-experimental studies to inform systematic reviews

Julie Glanville, John Eyers, Andrew M. Jones, Ian Shemilt, Grace Wang, Marit Johansen, Michelle Fiander, Hannah Rothstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This article reviews the available evidence and guidance on methods to identify reports of quasi-experimental (QE) studies to inform systematic reviews of health care, public health, international development, education, crime and justice, and social welfare. Study Design and Setting: Research, guidance, and examples of search strategies were identified by searching a range of databases, key guidance documents, selected reviews, conference proceedings, and personal communication. Current practice and research evidence were summarized. Results: Four thousand nine hundred twenty-four records were retrieved by database searches, and additional documents were obtained by other searches. QE studies are challenging to identify efficiently because they have no standardized nomenclature and may be indexed in various ways. Reliable search filters are not available. There is a lack of specific resources devoted to collecting QE studies and little evidence on where best to search. Conclusion: Searches to identify QE studies should search a range of resources and, until indexing improves, use strategies that focus on the topic rather than the study design. Better definitions, better indexing in databases, prospective registers, and reporting guidance are required to improve the retrieval of QE studies and promote systematic reviews of what works based on the evidence from such studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-76
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Databases
  • Information retrieval
  • Quasi-experimental studies
  • Search strategies
  • Study identification
  • Systematic reviews

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