So, you want to find out what evidence there is on a clinical question you’ve come across in practice (e.g. how effective is ciclosporin in the treatment of atopic dermatitis in dogs? what is the best intervention for managing feline urine spraying?). You’ll probably want to find out if there have been any published randomised controlled trials (conventionally the best form of evidence). Ideally, you will want someone to have already hunted out all the randomised controlled trials using an objective and transparent approach, with the aim of minimising bias: i.e. what you want to find is a good quality systematic review.
You go to search the free PubMed database on the internet . It’s got millions of citations, but most of them are about human health. You find some relevant veterinary citations, but it’s not clear from the title or abstract if they are all systematic reviews. You know you should probably look elsewhere in case you’ve missed something, and you’ve read that CAB abstracts is the database with the best coverage of research evidence on veterinary topics,1 but sadly you don’t subscribe to that. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could pull out just the veterinary systematic reviews (the number is not huge but is growing fast) and put them all together in one place? Wait a minute.....someone has just started doing that in a new public database called VetSRev.
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+VetSRev has been developed by the Centre for Evidence-based Veterinary Medicine (CEVM) at Nottingham University. The VetSRev team regularly searches PubMed and CAB abstracts for systematic reviews on veterinary topics and gathers the citations into VetSRev. Citations are only included for systematic reviews that include details of the search methodology, and that name the databases searched. Systematic reviews are included if they are considered by the VetSRev team to be relevant to veterinary medicine, veterinary science, animal health, animal reproduction or animal nutrition. Systematic reviews on animal-assisted therapy are included; systematic reviews of animal models of human disease are excluded, unless the results are judged to be directly relevant to veterinary medicine.The citations in VetSRev are linked to the original systematic review articles, but access to the full article text depends on whether the article is free or only available through subscription. The quality of reviews is not formally assessed by CEVM so VetSRev users need to do their own critical appraisal on systematic reviews found with the database. There is a helpful guide to using the database (“Getting started with VetSRev”). For example, it recommends using the plural for animal names in searches (e.g. when searching for cats as a topic, it is better to use “cats”, because “cat” will return many records with words containing “cat”, including “cattle”); and it describes how to combine search terms (the database does not use the Boolean operators “AND” and “OR” that people might be familiar with using).
Veterinary Prescriber’s reviews of veterinary treatments are based on a review of the evidence. VetSRev is now the first place we look for systematic reviews. VetSRev is a truly useful resource for anyone searching for evidence on veterinary topics.
1. Grindlay DJ et al. Searching the veterinary literature: a comparison of the coverage of veterinary journals by nine bibliographic databases. J Vet Med Educ 2012; 39: 404–12.