Strategy parameters included limiting the search to human subjects, the English language, and results published between January 2005 and November 2010 because the literature regarding health IT evolves rapidly and continually builds upon itself. Next, hand searches through the references were conducted and relevant studies were included. Primary and secondary research (e.g., meta-analyses, controlled trials) suggested by the public and the committee were also added to the search results. Other literature (e.g., editorials, commentaries) were excluded from the search results.


Titles and abstracts of the articles produced from the search were rigorously reviewed to determine which studies met the inclusion criteria for study quality and relevance. Pairs of reviewers evaluated titles and abstracts of all studies within each subject area. Each reviewer independently assigned articles to one of three categories with Category 1 being the most relevant and Category 3 being the least relevant (see definitions below).

Category 1: Literature examining how health IT affects patient safety.

1a. Systematic reviews2

1b. Experimental studies

1c. Observational studies

Category 2: Literature describing efforts to improve quality of health care through implementation of one or more of the following components of health IT (e.g., system design, systems analysis, usability, user-computer interface, or human factors).

Category 3: Studies not related to patient safety and health IT.

Reviewers then compared their evaluations, and any disagreement was resolved through discussion. The full texts of articles determined to be Category 1 were retrieved, evaluated, and, if needed, recategorized.


2 A systematic review is defined as a scientific investigation that focuses on a specific question and that uses explicit, preplanned scientific methods to identify, select, assess, and summarize the findings of similar but separate studies. It may or may not include a quantitative synthesis of the results from separate studies (meta-analysis).

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