Objective: The research sought to examine the overlap in coverage between several health-related databases, thus enabling the identification of the most important sources for searching for information on the rehabilitation of people with severe mental illness.
Methods: The literature was searched within a systematic review. Several health-related databases were retrieved (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, PsycLIT, Sociofile, and Social Science Citation Index), noting their source and comparing results retrieved from each database.
Findings: The total number of studies retrieved from each database varied. Almost a third of the papers retrieved from each database were unique to that source. Forty-two percent of the papers were only found in one database. Restricting a search to one database alone would miss many papers and could affect the results of a systematic review. PsycLIT was the most useful database for this topic area, containing 44% of the papers. MEDLINE, the database of first choice for many health professionals, held only 29%.
Conclusions: No database was determined to be significantly more useful than any other—each warranted inclusion in the study. Reliance cannot be placed on one database alone, and other methods such as hand searching should also be used. Although this may not be new information for information professionals, it is likely to be new for health professionals and researchers who are increasingly performing their own literature searches. Information professionals have an important role to play in conveying this message to those outside their profession.