Table 1

Single term with the best sensitivity (keeping specificity ≥50%), best specificity (keeping sensitivity ≥50%), and best optimization of sensitivity and specificity (based on the lowest possible absolute difference between sensitivity and specificity) for detecting costs and economics studies in EMBASE in 2000. Values are percentages (95% CIs).

Search term OVID search*

Sensitivity (%) (Cost: n = 183; Economics: n = 31)

Specificity (%) (Cost: n = 27586; Economics: n = 27738)

Precision (%)†

Accuracy (%) (n = 27769)


Best sensitivity – Costs exp economic aspect

98.9 (97.40 to 100.41)

93.1 (92.84 to 93.44)

8.7 (7.51 to 9.94)

93.2 (92.88 to 93.47)

Best sensitivity – Economics cost:.tw.

96.8 (90.55 to 102.99)

97.5 (97.31 to 97.67)

4.1 (2.68 to 5.58)

97.5 (97.31 to 97.67)

Best specificity – Costs cost effective:.tw.

54.1 (46.88 to 61.32)

99.4 (99.36 to 99.54)

39.4 (33.40 to 45.49)

99.2 (99.04 to 99.26)

Best specificity – Economics cost effective:.tw.

64.5 (47.67 to 81.36)

99.2 (99.06 to 99.28)

8.0 (4.64 to 11.36)

99.1 (99.02 to 99.24)

Best Optimization of Sensitivity & Specificity – Costs cost:.tw.

96.2 (93.40 to 98.95)

98.0 (97.82 to 98.15)

24.0 (20.95 to 27.14)

98.0 (97.81 to 98.14)

Best Optimization of Sensitivity & Specificity – Economics cost:.tw.

96.8 (90.55 to 102.99)

97.5 (97.31 to 97.67)

4.1 (2.68 to 5.58)

97.5 (97.31 to 97.67)


*The search strategy is reported using Ovid's search engine syntax for EMBASE. †Denominator varies by row. exp = exploded subject heading; : = truncation; tw = textword (word or phrase appears in title or abstract).

McKinlay et al. BMC Health Services Research 2006 6:67   doi:10.1186/1472-6963-6-67

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