OBJECTIVES: We analyzed the extent to which comparative effectiveness research (CER) organizations share terms for designs, analyzed coverage of CER designs in Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and Emtree, and explored whether scientists use CER design terms. METHODS: We developed local terminologies (LTs) and a CER design terminology by extracting terms in documents from five organizations. We defined coverage as the distribution over match type in MeSH and Emtree. We created a crosswalk by recording terms to which design terms mapped in both controlled vocabularies. We analyzed the hits for queries restricted to titles and abstracts to explore scientists' language. RESULTS: Pairwise LT overlap ranged from 22.64% (12/53) to 75.61% (31/41). The CER design terminology (n = 78 terms) consisted of terms for primary study designs and a few terms useful for evaluating evidence, such as opinion paper and systematic review. Patterns of coverage were similar in MeSH and Emtree (gamma = 0.581, P = 0.002). CONCLUSIONS: Stakeholder terminologies vary, and terms are inconsistently covered in MeSH and Emtree. The CER design terminology and crosswalk may be useful for expert searchers. For partially mapped terms, queries could consist of free text for modifiers such as nonrandomized or interrupted added to broad or related controlled terms.
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