What searches do users run on PEDro? An analysis of 893,971 search commands over a 6-month period

Matthew L. Stevens*, Anne Moseley, Mark R. Elkins, Christine C.W. Lin, Chris G. Maher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Clinicians must be able to search effectively for relevant research if they are to provide evidence-based healthcare. It is therefore relevant to consider how users search databases of evidence in healthcare, including what information users look for and what search strategies they employ. To date such analyses have been restricted to the PubMed database. Although the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) is searched millions of times each year, no studies have investigated how users search PEDro. Objectives: To assess the content and quality of searches conducted on PEDro. Methods: Searches conducted on the PEDro website over 6 months were downloaded and the ‘get’ commands and page-views extracted. The following data were tabulated: the 25 most common searches; the number of search terms used; the frequency of use of simple and advanced searches, including the use of each advanced search field; and the frequency of use of various search strategies. Results: Between August 2014 and January 2015, 893,971 search commands were entered on PEDro. Fewer than 18 % of these searches used the advanced search features of PEDro. ‘Musculoskeletal’ was the most common subdiscipline searched, while ‘low back pain’ was the most common individual search. Around 20 % of all searches contained errors. Conclusions: PEDro is a commonly used evidence resource, but searching appears to be sub-optimal in many cases. The effectiveness of searches conducted by users needs to improve, which could be facilitated by methods such as targeted training and amending the search interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-339
Number of pages7
JournalMethods of Information in Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Bibliographic databases
  • Information systems
  • PEDro
  • Physiotherapy
  • Search engines


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