Q1: Why use the PHC Search Filter and not Google? 

  • The answer is you should consider both in developing your search strategy. The PHC Search Filter provides results from peer reviewed journals using PubMed. In Google there are many unknowns in terms of comprehensiveness, non-peer reviewed literature and what rules determine the ranking of results. The PHC Search Filter includes a search strategy that has been objectively derived, tested and validated.

Q2: Why is term x not in the search filter?

  • Many frequently occurring MeSH and textword terms were considered during the development of the search filter. Terms were included in the search filter if they met multiple criteria: were central to the primary health care concept and retrieved unique citations from the gold standard. Terms were rejected if they were applicable to  other health care contexts or retrieved too many irrelevant results eg. GPs.

Q3: How do I cite or reference the PHC Search Filter if I use it in my work?

  • Depending on the situation there may be different ways. A suggested citation is as follows:
Primary Health Care Research & Information Service. PHC Search Filter. PHCRIS, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia. http://www.phcris.org.au/phcsearchfilter (accessed 6 February 2019)

Please contact PHCRIS for further information. We would be happy to discuss this with you.

Q4: Is the search filter applicable for a systematic review?

  • Finding the literature with the PHC Search Filter in PubMed can be used as a base. In addition the systematic review search strategy will need to encompass other literature databases with search strategies tailored to them. The PHC Search Filter is not a systematic search. A systematic search is broad and will retrieve many irrelevant and relevant citations. The MeSH and textword terms used in the PHC Search Filter can be considered in your search strategy.

Q5: Can I change the PHC Search Filter?

  • The PHC Search filter itself should not be changed as it will invalidate its known performance level.

Q6: Can I use the PHC Filter with Cinahl / Embase / OvidSP Medline?

  • Yes, you can use the PHC Search Filter as as basis for your own search strategy, You will need to translate the search syntax for those databases.

Q7: Why PubMed?

  • The PHC Search Filter was initially developed as an OvidSP Medline filter and then was translated for PubMed. PubMed offers several advantages over OvidSP Medline:
    • PubMed is freely available and readily accessible without institutional subscription.
    • PubMed searches can be converted into hyperlinks for real time interrogation of the PubMed database.
    • PubMed provides access to more content than OvidSP Medline.

Q8: Will the PHC Search Filter give me ALL the literature about primary health care?

  • No. The PHC Search Filter uses the PubMed database and therefore only the literature indexed by PubMed will be found. For information about searching other literature, such as grey literature, see the CareSearch website.

Q9: Why a search filter?

  • Size of PubMed can make efficient searching difficult.
  • Optimal search construction is an iterative, time consuming process.
  • Even experienced searchers can develop poor searches.
  • The search filter can be used by inexperienced and experienced searchers.
  • The search filter has been designed with a balance between retrieving relevant citations and keeping irrelevant citations out.
  • This has some effect on saving time for the user.
  • PubMed as the platform is open to anyone with an internet connection.

Q10: Apart from the PHC Search Filter, are there others?

  • See the Flinders Filters team for more and you may wish to Google for others.

Q11: Want to know more?