Identifying common methods used by drug interaction experts for finding evidence about potential drug-drug interactions: Web-based survey

Amy J. Grizzle, John Horn, Carol Collins, Jodi Schneider, Daniel C. Malone, Britney Stottlemyer, Richard David Boyce

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Preventing drug interactions is an important goal to maximize patient benefit from medications. Summarizing potential drug-drug interactions (PDDIs) for clinical decision support is challenging, and there is no single repository for PDDI evidence. Additionally, inconsistencies across compendia and other sources have been well documented. Standard search strategies for complete and current evidence about PDDIs have not heretofore been developed or validated. Objective: This study aimed to identify common methods for conducting PDDI literature searches used by experts who routinely evaluate such evidence. Methods: We invited a convenience sample of 70 drug information experts, including compendia editors, knowledge-base vendors, and clinicians, via emails to complete a survey on identifying PDDI evidence. We created a Web-based survey that included questions regarding the (1) development and conduct of searches; (2) resources used, for example, databases, compendia, search engines, etc; (3) types of keywords used to search for the specific PDDI information; (4) study types included and excluded in searches; and (5) search terms used. Search strategy questions focused on 6 topics of the PDDI information—(1) that a PDDI exists; (2) seriousness; (3) clinical consequences; (4) management options; (5) mechanism; and (6) health outcomes. Results: Twenty participants (response rate, 20/70, 29%) completed the survey. The majority (17/20, 85%) were drug information specialists, drug interaction researchers, compendia editors, or clinical pharmacists, with 60% (12/20) having >10 years’ experience. Over half (11/20, 55%) worked for clinical solutions vendors or knowledge-base vendors. Most participants developed (18/20, 90%) and conducted (19/20, 95%) search strategies without librarian assistance. PubMed (20/20, 100%) and Google Scholar (11/20, 55%) were most commonly searched for papers, followed by Google Web Search (7/20, 35%) and EMBASE (3/20, 15%). No respondents reported using Scopus. A variety of subscription and open-access databases were used, most commonly Lexicomp (9/20, 45%), Micromedex (8/20, 40%), Drugs@FDA (17/20, 85%), and DailyMed (13/20, 65%). Facts and Comparisons was the most commonly used compendia (8/20, 40%). Across the 6 attributes of interest, generic drug name was the most common keyword used. Respondents reported using more types of keywords when searching to identify the existence of PDDIs and determine their mechanism than when searching for the other 4 attributes (seriousness, consequences, management, and health outcomes). Regarding the types of evidence useful for evaluating a PDDI, clinical trials, case reports, and systematic reviews were considered relevant, while animal and in vitro data studies were not. Conclusions: This study suggests that drug interaction experts use various keyword strategies and various database and Web resources depending on the PDDI evidence they are seeking. Greater automation and standardization across search strategies could improve one’s ability to identify PDDI evidence. Hence, future research focused on enhancing the existing search tools and designing recommended standards is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere11182
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • Drug interaction experts
  • Drug interactions
  • Potential drug-drug interactions
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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