Table 3

Combination of Terms with the Best Sensitivity (keeping Specificity ≥50%), Best Specificity (keeping Sensitivity ≥50%), and Best Optimization of Sensitivity and Specificity (based on abs [sensitivity-specificity]<1%) for Detecting Studies of Causation in EMBASE in 2000

Search Strategy OVID search*

Sensitivity (%) (n = 215)

Specificity (%) (n = 27,554)

Precision (%)‡

Accuracy (%) (n = 27,769)


Best Sensitivity

risk:.mp.

OR exp methodology

OR exp epidemiology

91.6 (87.9 to 95.3)

60.9 (60.3 to 61.4)

1.8 (1.6 to 2.0)

61.1 (60.5 to 61.7)

Best Specificity

cohort.tw.

OR relative risk:.tw.

53.0 (46.4 to 59.7)

94.6 (94.4 to 94.9)

7.1 (5.9 to 8.4)

94.3 (94.0 to 94.6)

Small decrease in best specificity with a substantive increase in sensitivity

cohort.tw.

OR relative risk:.tw.

OR adjusted OR†.tw.

61.4 (54.9 to 67.9)

92.9 (92.6 to 93.2)

6.3 (5.3 to 7.3)

92.6 (92.3 to 92.9)

Best Optimization of Sensitivity & Specificity

risk.tw.

OR mortalit:.tw.

OR cohort.tw.

81.9 (76.7 to 87.0)

81.4 (80.9 to 81.8)

3.3 (2.8 to 3.8)

81.4 (80.9 to 81.8)


*Search strategies are reported using Ovid's search engine syntax for EMBASE.

†OR = odds ratio.

‡Denominator varies by row.

: = truncation; mp = multiple posting – term appears in title, abstract, or subject heading; exp = explode, a search term that automatically includes closely related indexing terms; tw = textword (word or phrase appears in title or abstract).

Haynes et al. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2005 5:8   doi:10.1186/1472-6947-5-8

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