BIREME Bulletin n° 9

Advanced workshop on search strategies building

The 1st Advanced Search Strategies Workshop on Health Information was held in Rio de Janeiro, on June 6 – 8, 2017, as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of BIREME and the 80th anniversary of the Instituto Nacional de Câncer (INCA). The workshop is aligned with the cooperation projects established with the Brazilian Ministry of Health, through the General Coordination of Documentation and Information (CGDI/SE/MS).

The aim of this workshop was to set up and train a network called Network of Reference Professionals of the Virtual Health Library and to promote the cooperative management of the Repository of search strategies on the VHL. The goal is to gather professionals from the Brazilian Network and the Brazil VHL Network of experts on building search strategies in health, enabling the exchange of experiences and information among these professionals.

Rosemeire Rocha Pinto (Librarian, Supervisor of BIREME User Services) and Camila Belo (Librarian and Supervisor of the INCA Integrated System of Libraries and of the Cancer Prevention and Control VHL) coordinated this activity with the assistance of Elisabeth Biruel (Librarian at BIREME), who helped with the promotion on social media, and with INCA Teaching Coordination that worked the logistics of the event. With the presence of 50 participants from all over Brazil, there were als presentations by five speakers including physicians and librarians.


The topics discussed during the workshop put into context the importance of evidence-based search strategies on health; capabilities and skills required to build strategies; stages and resources needed to develop searches; quality analysis of search strategies; instruments to assess the quality of the studies; tools to deal with the results and tables used to grade and classify evidences.

According to Rosemeire Pinto, “the workshop was an intense moment where experience and information were exchanged allowing all participants to learn. It also confirmed the importance of the role of the strategic librarian for the translation of the information need, guiding the structuring of this need, the searching techniques on information systems, as well as the organization and assessment of the retrieved information.”


The librarians who were at the workshop can already use the Repository of search strategies on the VHL to register and disseminate the search strategies developed at their own organizations. They also have a social media group (Grupo BACS – Bibliotecários Avaliadores em Ciências da Saúde).  The next steps will be to establish a formal place for the Network and the promotion of specific and regular training sessions on the web. This is the beginning of the Network with librarians from all over Brazil, although it has potential to expand throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

The testimonials below were taken from the evaluation forms of the training course (answered anonymously):

“The initiative is very important. The participation of information professionals has always been essential in the health field; however, with current demands, users need to go to libraries in search of professionals that may take part in their productions, guiding their demands for information, etc. The course was important to strengthen the learning process and also to raise the interest of participants to play a more active role at their institutions”

“I would like to suggest more meetings like this one in order to exchange experiences and to keep us updated. The group activity was excellent because each team showed its own way of putting up a strategy adding even more value to what we saw in theory.”

“I think the workshop helped me to clarify several ideas regarding search strategies and the practice will consolidate the knowledge passed on by the professionals involved in the training session. (…) The workshop was very well organized (…) it gathered excellent professionals willing to contribute to this field.”

The concept of the Network of Reference Professionals

The search strategies are regularly developed by information professionals that work together with experts of researched areas. This enables retrieving specific and qualified information that will be used to assist in the decision-making process in the field of public health or as support for clinical decisions. Search strategies are also paramount for the development of Systematic Reviews, Economic and Technology Evaluations and/or the identification of health priority topics because they are part of the evidence-informed health decision-making process.

The Brazilian Network and the VHL Brazil Network have trained professionals working in different health-related areas. However, during the regular meetings of this Network there was the need to share this knowledge and to bring everyone up to the same level of skills on the development of specialized health research.

The first deliverable of this demand was the Repository of search strategies on the VHL with the goal of promoting and sharing search strategies developed by the Network.

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