Literature Search Strategy

We systematically reviewed multiple databases (MEDLINE/PubMed, CINAHL®, EMBASE, PsycINFO) to identify and synthesize all relevant literature published from 1980-2016. MeSH headings and Key words for multiple clinical areas were paired with spinal cord injury, tetraplegia, quadriplegia or paraplegia.

Studies were included if they:

  1. Were published in English
  2. studied at least 3 Human subjects, at least 50% of which had a Spinal Cord Injury
  3. used a measurable outcome associated with the treatment

Over the course of the SCIRE Project, new areas of study and SCI rehabilitation topics and keywords (e.g., pressure ulcers) were identified by a multi-disciplinary team of expert scientists, clinicians, policy-makers, and people with SCI.

After the reference sections of meta-analyses, systematic reviews and review articles were hand-searched (it is known that hand searching provides higher rates of return than electronic searching within a particular subject area (Hopewell et al. 2007), the number of titles and abstracts reviewed from the 1st SCIRE Project until 2015 was over 18,000+.

Keywords used for each specific topic presented in the current version of SCIRE (5.0) are outlined in Appendix 1.


“External clinical evidence can inform, but can never replace, individual clinical expertise, and it is this expertise that decides whether the external evidence applies to the individual patient at all and, if so, how it should be integrated into a clinical decision…Evidence based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. The practice of evidence based medicine means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research.”
Sackett et al. (1996)


Past Versions of SCIRE: