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disorder. The MEDLINE database was used to identify relevant publications. MEDLINE is a
bibliographic database that contains more than 28 million references to journal articles
worldwide, with a concentration on biomedicine and health.8 Articles within MEDLINE are
indexed using the MeSH thesaurus - a controlled and hierarchically organised vocabulary
produced by the National Library of Medicine.9 Each article is assigned a set of MeSH terms
that characterise its subject matter to enable cataloguing and electronic searching. Search
terms for the analysis were developed based on main headings and qualifiers (also known as
subheadings) within the MeSH thesaurus, and were selected to permit synthesis of the
results across the three main research objectives of the report.
Search terms for the research topics were based on MeSH qualifiers related to the main
heading: 'Digestive system diseases'. Digestive system diseases are defined within the
thesaurus as diseases in any part of the gastrointestinal tract or the accessory organs (liver,
biliary tract, pancreas). All narrower terms within the main heading (encompassing digestive
neoplasms as well as diseases) were included in the search. The qualifiers that are linked to a
main heading, group together articles concerned with a particular aspect of a subject (e.g.,
drug therapy, epidemiology, genetics). In total, 26 qualifiers or combinations of qualifiers were
included in the search in conjunction with the main heading. Two additional topics which were
not qualifiers (information science and health care quality, access and evaluation) were
searched as major concepts in combination with the main heading and presented separately.
The digestive disorder search terms were based on narrower headings within the 'Digestive
system diseases' main heading. To facilitate comparison with disease burden estimates,
concordance with ICD-10 classifications was assessed where possible. A previously published
concordance table between ICD-10 codes and MeSH terms provided some assistance with
this task.10 Additionally, where available, cross-referencing between MeSH terms and ICD-10
codes was performed using the Unified Medical Language System Metathesaurus.11
Searches were performed in January 2022. To enhance the relevancy of the results, searches
were limited to human studies, published since the year 2000 in academic journals. Database
search limits were used to refine the results to publications in academic journals published
since the year 2000, and a search term filter was used to refine the results to human
studies.12 All publication types (e.g., primary research and reviews) were included. Depending
on the subject matter, publications may have been indexed to more than one research topic
or digestive disorder, however it was not feasible to screen the publications to apply a
weighting scheme to adjust for double counting due to the broad scope of the analysis.
Additionally, only 14% of the results were indexed to a geographical location and therefore it
was decided not to limit by location. The results are therefore reflective of global research
activity. The search terms are shown in the Appendix.
White Book 2: Part 2


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