Accuracy of medical subject heading indexing of dental survival analyses

Danielle M Layton, Michael Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: To assess the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) indexing of articles that employed time-to-event analyses to report outcomes of dental treatment in patients.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Articles published in 2008 in 50 dental journals with the highest impact factors were hand searched to identify articles reporting dental treatment outcomes over time in human subjects with time-to-event statistics (included, n = 95), without time-to-event statistics (active controls, n = 91), and all other articles (passive controls, n = 6,769). The search was systematic (kappa 0.92 for screening, 0.86 for eligibility). Outcome-, statistic- and time-related MeSH were identified, and differences in allocation between groups were analyzed with chi-square and Fischer exact statistics.

RESULTS: The most frequently allocated MeSH for included and active control articles were "dental restoration failure" (77% and 52%, respectively) and "treatment outcome" (54% and 48%, respectively). Outcome MeSH was similar between these groups (86% and 77%, respectively) and significantly greater than passive controls (10%, P < .001). Significantly more statistical MeSH were allocated to the included articles than to the active or passive controls (67%, 15%, and 1%, respectively, P < .001). Sixty-nine included articles specifically used Kaplan-Meier or life table analyses, but only 42% (n = 29) were indexed as such. Significantly more time-related MeSH were allocated to the included than the active controls (92% and 79%, respectively, P = .02), or to the passive controls (22%, P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS: MeSH allocation within MEDLINE to time-to-event dental articles was inaccurate and inconsistent. Statistical MeSH were omitted from 30% of the included articles and incorrectly allocated to 15% of active controls. Such errors adversely impact search accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-44
Number of pages9
JournalThe International Journal of Prosthodontics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 07 Jun 2014


  • Abstracting and Indexing as Topic
  • Bibliometrics
  • Dental Care
  • Dental Restoration Failure
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Life Tables
  • Medical Subject Headings
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


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