Finding complementary and integrative medicine systematic reviews and controlled trials (subscription needed)
Since the inception of the Field, one focus of Cochrane Complementary Medicine has been the development of a database of controlled trials on complementary medicine (CAM) therapies. The trials are included in the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), which is part of the Cochrane Library (cochranelibrary.com). The CENTRAL database may be accessed directly here and a description of the sources of the Complementary Medicine trials, and their characteristics, may be read here. All Cochrane reviews, including those on CAM therapies, are included in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR), which is also in the Cochrane Library (cochranelibrary.com).
If you or your institution is a subscriber to the Cochrane Library, you have access to CENTRAL and the CDSR. You may develop and save search strategies to retrieve trials and reviews and freely download search results. In the past, non-subscribers to the Library could also search and download references from the Library without charge although they could not view individual citations online, or save search strategies. In 2018 this policy was changed, and non-subscribers no longer have access to CENTRAL. Meanwhile, although Cochrane is moving towards an open-access model, the records in CDSR are currently a mix of open-access and subscription-only records. If you experience any difficulties in using the Cochrane Library in identifying research on complementary medicine and would like advice or assistance, please e-mail the Cochrane Complementary Medicine Field Director.
Finding CAM-related literature using text words from an operational definition of complementary, alternative, and integrative medicine therapies (free)
We recently collaborated on a project led by Dr. Jeremy Y. Ng, PhD, to create a comprehensive list of therapies that have been characterized as complementary, alternative, and integrative medicine (CAIM) therapies. This list was created by thoroughly searching peer-reviewed and quality-assessed resources and includes thousands of terms and synonyms. Because we consider CAIM and CAM to cover essentially the same set of therapies, this collection of terms serves as an updated operational definition of CAM on our website. The development of the term set for CAIM is described in a 2022 paper published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. As an extension to this work, we collaborated with the authors on the creation of a search string informed by this operational definition for CAIM research utilizing bibliographic databases. This strategy is based on the 2022 operational definition of CAIM, and aims to standardize research involving systematic searches, such as systematic reviews and bibliometric analyses. This paper has also been published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies; Supplementary File 1 of this paper contains this search string and can be downloaded from the journal’s website for free. It can be used on the most common bibliographic databases, including those searchable on the OVID platform (e.g., MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, AMED), the EBSCO platform (e.g., ERIC, CINAHL), as well as Scopus, and Web of Science.
Finding CAM-related literature on PubMed (free)
The US National Library of Medicine developed a search filter for identifying articles in PubMed/MEDLINE on complementary medicine topics. This CAM on PubMed search filter could be used in conjunction with other limits in PubMed/MEDLINE (e.g., the randomized controlled trial publication type or the systematic review subset) to identify specific types of research related to complementary medicine. Unfortunately, the CAM on PubMed search filter has not been updated since February 2019 and is no longer accessible as a filter or subset within PubMed. The search strategy, which is linked to above, may not function optimally due to changes in MeSH indexing since 2019. We collaborated with researchers at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute to develop an OVID translation of the CAM on PubMed search strategy for persons who wished to use OVID rather than PubMed to search MEDLINE for CAM, and a CENTRAL translation of the CAM on PubMed search strategy for persons who wished to use CENTRAL to find controlled trials in CAM. These search strategies are linked to above but may not function optimally due to changes in indexing since they were created.
The US National Library of Medicine also developed a search filter for identifying articles in PubMed/MEDLINE on dietary supplements. The Dietary Supplements search filter could be used in conjunction with other limits in PubMed/MEDLINE to identify research related to dietary supplements. Unfortunately, the Dietary Supplements search filter has not been updated since March 2020 and is no longer accessible as a filter in PubMed. The search strategy itself, which is linked to above, may not function properly due to changes in MeSH indexing since the last modifications were made to the strategy.