As a hospital librarian, I have a particular interest in approaches to searching for published literature on complex topics. And Integrated Care is the most complex topic I have tackled to date!
In 2015 the Central Coast Local Health District (CCLHD) in NSW, Australia, where I work, became a demonstrator site for the NSW Ministry of Health Integrated Care strategy and I was asked to do searches of the biomedical literature to support a number of projects. I quickly realised the difficulties in searching the evidence base for integrated care. The terminology used to describe the concept is wide-ranging, the indexing of relevant publications is variable, and relevant material is published and indexed in a range of databases including but not limited to health subject areas.
I started corresponding with another health librarian, Raechel Damarell from Flinders Filters, Flinders University in South Australia, about the difficulties in searching the integrated care evidence base. Raechel and her colleagues at Flinders Filters have an impressive track record in successfully developing subject search filters and online search tools for a number of complex topics and we wondered whether it would be possible to develop one for integrated care. Now, 18 months later, we have done just that, with the support of CCLHD, the International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC) and The University of Newcastle.
The CCLHD Integrated Care Unit provided the funding and Flinders Filters built the search filter. The involvement of IFIC was crucial to the success of the project as it was through Dr Nick Goodwin that an advisory group of international integrated care experts was assembled. Every step of the search filter development was guided by input from this group. It was challenging managing the allocation of tasks and gathering of feedback from this group of twelve experts from six countries and multiple time zones. But it was worth it as their input resulted in value adding strategies to make the search filter user-friendly for a range of end users. The base product – the rigorously developed and validated broad search filter – has high recall which meets the needs of researchers. However a narrow version of the filter was also developed, with higher precision, to suit those who just want to locate a few, highly relevant articles. Similarly, the advisory group provided input on a range of expert topic searches which can be combined with either the broad or narrow filter to create a more focused search on a particular integrated care setting, population, facet or geographical location.
Flinders Filters also provided translations of the search filter for use in a range of databases other than PubMed, and instructions for effective searching using Google Advanced Search. IFIC has now transferred the suite of products onto its website to produce an attractive, user-friendly, highly visible resource. The tools are packaged together and branded as Integrated Care Search (ICS). This was always my vision for the search filter. If we could create it, I wanted it to have international applicability, to be findable, and to be open access, particularly for integrated care practitioners in developing countries and those who don’t have the resources of an academic institution behind them. I believe that is what we have achieved and I look forward to feedback on ICS from the international integrated care community.
Central Coast Local Health District