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An example of culture publication bias in systematic reviews

Posted by egavilan on 23 Aug 2012 at 11:33 GMT

I have read with marked interest the systematic review by Opondo et al. The appropriateness of drugs prescription is a cornerstone issue that implies the efforts of policies, economic evaluators, researchers and healthcare professionals. The prevalence of inappropriate medication prescriptions (IMP) is so high that it has become a major task of public health.

Six years ago we conducted a cross-sectional population-based study to estimate the prevalence of Immobile Elderly Patients Living in the Community. The study was published in a Spanish Journal, Atención Primaria, indexed in most popular scientific databases. An English version of the manuscript is available in the publisher’s site:
The prevalence of IMP was higher in our study than in the data revealed by the systematic review, probably due to the type of population included, immobilized patients, with higher amount of co-morbidities than general elderly population.

The present systematic review excluded non-English papers, but our article is available in English, not only the abstract. Searching in Ovid-Medline, as did Opondo et al, we can find our article, but it marks it as “English Abstract”, “Language Spanish”, so it’s not a methodological bias. But maybe the systematic exclusion of non-english published papers is just an example of publication bias in systematic reviews, as a part of a wider type of bias, the English-language centred culture bias.

No competing interests declared.