ARIF Databases

Welcome to the ARIF reviews database, a small specialist database which was set up in 1996 not long after the inception of the ARIF service. It has always contained details of systematic reviews of effectiveness of healthcare interventions but over the years, as the scope of systematic reviews has widened to include diagnostic and observational studies, so too has the content of the database. Although the majority of reviews still relate to the effectiveness of drugs, devices or other healthcare interventions, the ARIF database now includes reviews from areas such as transport, criminology, education and even ecology. About 10% of the 20,000 reviews it contains currently are systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy/screening studies.

You may also choose to search the ARIF Methodology database which is a much smaller database (approx 1000 records) containing records of studies on systematic review methodology. The same guidance on searching detailed below applies to both databases.

Up until July 2008 these databases were only available in-house but we are now able to share them with others via our new website. The reviews and studies indexed for inclusion in these databases are derived from scanning of the relevant journals, databases and alerting services. Their content is updated on a weekly basis to ensure currency.

If you have any queries about the ARIF databases please contact:

Searching the databases...

Quick search

This facility only searches across the indexed fields of the database (keyword and author), thus conducts a very narrow search so we suggest that in most cases you use the advanced search mode allowing you to tailor the search to your question and search as broadly as possible. If you do use the quick search option make sure you put an asterisk (wild card) immediately after your chosen term to capture any compound terms.

Advanced search

This is our recommended option, enabling you to conduct a more comprehensive search. You may limit your search to the ARIF reviews database or the ARIF Methodology database using the drop-down menu.

For a broad search combine text words in title and abstract via the drop-down all non-indexed fields option using the Boolean “OR” operator with keywords (added at the point of indexing each record) via the drop-down all indexed fields option. To ensure the most comprehensive search use an asterisk after single terms. Bracket specific compound terms thus{heart failure}.

When searching by author use surname only and always add * immediately after the author name.

To broaden your search

As detailed above search using both all non-indexed fields and all indexed fields combined with Boolean operator OR.

To narrow your search

We suggest you try searching on title only or use the all indexed terms search option. It is also possible to narrow your search to particular years by using the drop-down date option.

Phrase Searches

The best strategy is to bracket your term thus{breast cancer} and search via all non-indexed fields.

To find a specific category of systematic review:

Although we do not use a controlled vocabulary such as MeSH when reviews are entered into the ARIF database, we do add relevant index terms to a record to help with searching and retrieval. In addition to this we also tag specific types of systematic review so that they can be retrieved easily. For example if you are looking for systematic reviews of diagnostic test studies in general, search on “DIAGNOSIS” under keyword and you will retrieve over 1,700 diagnostic test reviews.

The other categories of review that are tagged on entry to the database are as follows:

Alternative Medicine
Mental health
Public health
Observational Study

Sorting your search results

Once you have retrieved your search results you can use the drop-down sort facility to organise them according to author, date or source.

Exporting your search results

As well as printing out results, it is also possible to mark specific references and download them to Reference Management software using the Export facility

Individual records

Each ARIF database record is based on the standard Reference Manager layout and includes only the following fields:

Vol and issue no

Although the databases include abstracts for most records, for copyright reasons we have not made these accessible on the web. However we have included urls where available.

If you have any queries about the ARIF databases please contact : 

Go to the ARIF databases