A bibliometric analysis of systematic reviews on vaccines and immunisation

Fernandes S, Jit M, Bozzani F, Griffiths UK, Scott JAG, Burchett HED
Vaccine. 2018;36

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INTRODUCTION: SYSVAC is an online bibliographic database of systematic reviews and systematic review protocols on vaccines and immunisation compiled by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) through their National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups (NITAG) resource centre (www.nitag-resource.org). Here the development of the database and a bibliometric review of its content is presented, describing trends in the publication of policy-relevant systematic reviews on vaccines and immunisation from 2008 to 2016. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Searches were conducted in seven scientific databases according to a standardized search protocol, initially in 2014 with the most recent update in January 2017. Abstracts and titles were screened according to specific inclusion criteria. All included publications were coded into relevant categories based on a standardized protocol and subsequently analysed to look at trends in time, topic, area of focus, population and geographic location. RESULTS: After screening for inclusion criteria, 1285 systematic reviews were included in the database. While in 2008 there were only 34 systematic reviews on a vaccine-related topic, this increased to 322 in 2016. The most frequent pathogens/diseases studied were influenza, human papillomavirus and pneumococcus. There were several areas of duplication and overlap. DISCUSSION: As more systematic reviews are published it becomes increasingly time-consuming for decision-makers to identify relevant information among the ever-increasing volume available. The risk of duplication also increases, particularly given the current lack of coordination of systematic reviews on vaccine-related questions, both in terms of their commissioning and their execution. The SYSVAC database offers an accessible catalogue of vaccine-relevant systematic reviews with, where possible access or a link to the full-text. CONCLUSIONS: SYSVAC provides a freely searchable platform to identify existing vaccine-policy-relevant systematic reviews. Systematic reviews will need to be assessed adequately for each specific question and quality.