An important part of the work of the Cochrane Skin Group is the development of a comprehensive international register containing reports of controlled clinical trials in dermatology. This register is a valuable resource for those preparing systematic reviews on dermatology topics.
Electronic search strategies have been developed by the Cochrane Collaboration to find reports of clinical trials covering all medical disciplines. These are regularly applied to Medline, Embase and other databases and are the main means by which the Cochrane Collaboration has built up the CENTRAL database of trials, which in May 2002 contained over 340 000 records.
Each review group develops its own search strategy related to its medical scope to find reports of trials that are relevant to its discipline. The CSG applies its "skin search strategy" to each new issue of the Cochrane Library. The records that result from this search are placed in a "pending" database and gradually transferred to the Specialised Skin Register once the paper copy of the reference has been checked. This "clean" electronic database contains only reports of RCTs and controlled clinical trials (CCTs) on subjects covered by the scope of the CSG. The database is sent to the Cochrane Library every quarter, where it becomes incorporated into the CENTRAL. Eventually this will build up within the Cochrane Library so that every record relevant to dermatology will have been checked for trial status and labelled, or will have been removed when it has been determined on closer inspection that the article is not a trial after all.
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