Background: systematic reviews (SRs) are the most effective method to consolidate vast amounts of research on a specific topic. However, carrying out a SR takes much time and requires large amounts of resources. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of SRs published in dentistry, many of which have not been updated. Reusing the information that other SRs have found previously can be useful to minimize time and resources.
Epistemonikos software generates a table displaying the cluster of SRs that share at least one included study, and all of the studies included in those reviews (matrices of evidence). L-OVE (Living OVerview of the Evidence) is a platform that brings together all the research evidence (SRs and primary studies) relevant to a specific topic, saving the time of conducting searches and screening. Caries L-OVE has all the existing evidence in Epistemonikos about interventions for dental caries prevention, and is continuously updated.
Objectives: to compare the number of primary studies (PS) included in dental caries prevention Cochrane SRs with all previous SRs and PS included in Caries L-OVE.
Methods: we included all dental caries prevention Cochrane SRs carried out by the Oral Health Group from its inception to March 2019. We considered only SRs of interventions that include randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials. The number of PS included in each of them was registered. By using the tool to create matrices of evidence, we determined which of these PS had already been included in other SRs of the same topic. Subsequently, using the L-OVE platform, possible studies that were not included by the Cochrane SRs and met its inclusion criteria were evaluated.
Results: a total of 22 Cochrane SRs and 406 Non-Cochrane SRs about caries prevention were included in Caries L-OVE. One Cochrane SR did not include any PS and another two included observational studies that were excluded from the analysis. A total of 218 PS (mean by SR: 13) were included in 19 dental caries prevention Cochrane SRs; 191 of them (mean by SR: 11) were already included in previous SRs. The 84.7% of the PS included in Cochrane SRs were already included in previously published non-Cochrane SRs. In addition, Cochrane SRs did not find 29 PS (Mean by SR: 2) that were included in Caries L-OVE.
Conclusions: a high percentage of PS relevant to SRs were already included in previous reviews. It seems to be more efficient to perform a search and screening of articles previously included in SRs than to conduct new SRs from scratch. L-OVE platform allows access to all relevant studies on a topic, avoiding loss of relevant articles.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement: the included systematic reviews were produced in response to high-quality priority clinical questions. Also, this question is relevant for patients and healthcare consumers, due to the high prevalence of dental caries.