User Guide


The Transfusion Evidence Library has been developed by NHS Blood and Transplant's Systematic Review Initiative (SRI) in Oxford. Its aim is to provide high-level evidence-based information on all aspects of blood donation, blood transfusion and alternatives to transfusion to clinicians, researchers and other related health professionals.


The Transfusion Evidence Library includes systematic reviews, randomised controlled trials and health economic evaluations relevant to transfusion medicine. Many of the records in the database contain abstracts and/or links to the electronic full text.

  1. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses from 1980 to present, which meet the following inclusion criteria:
    1. The review addresses a clearly focused question and describes the inclusion and exclusion criteria of the review.
    2. At least one bibliographic database in addition to PubMed®/MEDLINE® was searched. All reviews that searched PubMed®/MEDLINE® only have been excluded.
  2. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) from 1950 to present
    Controlled clinical trials are only included if the trial's interventions have been allocated randomly to the participant groups.
  3. Health economic evaluations from 1980 to present.
    Health economic evaluations are only included if they are based on a systematic review.

Identification of Included Records

Records are sourced from MEDLINE® and from handsearched non-indexed literature, such as conference proceedings, up to 2018.

  • PubMed: For searching PubMed, an in-house search strategy was designed to identify papers relevant to all aspects of transfusion medicine. This was then combined with adaptations of the Cochrane RCT filter and the SIGN systematic review and economic studies search filters. Please note that the in-house search strategy has not been derived from or tested against a 'gold standard' set of studies, although it has been designed to be highly sensitive. Search strategies are available on request.

  • Handsearching: Systematic reviews and RCTs have also been identified by the SRI by the handsearching of proceedings from all transfusion-related conferences, including the annual meetings/congresses of: American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), American Society of Hematology (ASH), British Blood Transfusion Society (BBTS), British Society of Haematology (BSH), European Haematology Association (EHA), Haematology Society of Australia & New Zealand (HSANZ), International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT), International Society on Thrombosis & Haemostasis (ISTH) and the Network for the Advancement of Transfusion Alternatives (NATA), from 1980 to 2018 inclusive.
  • Searches for new records are conducted in PubMed every month. Once the records have been either downloaded or manually transcribed, additional information is added to each record by the SRI information specialist(s), including clinical specialty, subject area and, for selected articles, PICO summaries.

Searching the Transfusion Evidence Library

Main Search Page

On the main search page, searches can be performed by entering either a single search term, multiple search terms (the search will look for ALL of the terms within each record) or an exact phrase (within quotation marks) into the search box [boxed in purple]. (Please note: the use of brackets is not supported and any operators (AND, OR, NOT) must be in capital letters)).

A screenshot of the search screen

Individual search results can be selected (or deselected) by clicking on the checkbox next to the record number. All search results can be selected by clicking on 'Select All' and deselected by clicking on 'Clear all selections' [boxed in orange].

Selected search results can be printed, emailed or saved by clicking on the Print, Email or Save buttons [boxed in brown].

Search Filters

Searches can also be performed using the 'Search filters' menu on the left-hand side of the screen [boxed in red]. One filter or sub-filter from each of the following 6 groups can be selected at any one time:

  1. Clinical Specialty - which can be filtered by:
    • Blood Donors and Donation Practice
    • Critical Care
    • Haematology and Oncology
    • Medicine
    • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
    • Surgery
  2. Subject Area - which can be filtered by:
    • Adverse Effects of Transfusion
    • Alternatives to Blood
    • Blood Components
    • Clinical Practice
    • Fractionated Blood Products
    • Therapeutic Apheresis
  3. Study Design - which can be filtered by:
    • Economic Study
    • Randomised Controlled Trial
    • Systematic Review
  4. Patient Type - Selecting the 'Neonates and Paediatrics' filter restricts search results to articles which focus on neonatal and/or paediatric patients.
  5. Date - Searches can be limited to publication year, year range, or to the past 5 or 10 years.
  6. Text Availability - Searches can be limited to records which have either abstracts (only) or full electronic text available to view.
Search Tools
Find an Article

The 'Find article' option allows the user to search for a single reference by author name, title, year, journal title etc, or a combination of these.

A screenshot of the Find an Article search screen
Advanced Search

The Advanced Search boxes can be used to combine search terms and/or to develop a multi-line search. It can be accessed from all pages by clicking on Search Tools and selecting Advanced Search.

A screenshot of the advanced search screen

You can combine search terms using the following operators:

OR - The OR operator retrieves records that contain any or all of the search terms. Use this operator to broaden your search results.

AND - The AND operator retrieves only those records that include all of the search terms. Use this operator to narrow your search results.

NOT - The NOT operator retrieves records that contain the first search term but excludes records with the second search term.

Click on the blue + button to add another search term.

Fields that can be combined using the Advanced Search drop-down boxes are:

  • All Fields
  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Journal
  • Volume
  • Issue
  • Pages
  • Year
  • Authors
  • Keywords
  • MeSH Headings

In addition, more complex searches can be performed in one of two ways, by either:

  1. using multiple search boxes with the drop-down Boolean operator boxes, or
  2. typing search terms and Boolean operators into a single search box.
Viewing Full Records

By clicking on the record title the full record is displayed, including full citation, abstract (where available), full text link (where available) and the following additional information (where available):

  • Study design
  • Clinical specialty
  • Subject area
  • Language
A screenshot of an article screen

Printing, Emailing and Saving Search Results

Once a search has been completed, search results can be printed, emailed or saved (downloaded).

  • First, select the records of interest (either individually or by clicking on the 'Select All' button), and then click on either the Print, Email or Save button on the top right of the screen. You will be taken to the 'Save or print selected results' screen below.
  • Select the format you would like for your selected search results: search results can be formatted as HTML, Summary (i.e. citation only), Abstract (i.e. citation plus abstract), RIS (for importing into bibliographic software, such as EndNote) or CSV (for importing into spreadsheets).
  • Once formatting and sorting options have been selected, please click on 'Save to File' for printing and saving, and on 'Save to Email' for emailing search results.
A screenshot of the printing, emailing and saving screen

Transfusion Evidence Alert and Round-Up

Please click on the Alerts menu to find out more about our free monthly and quarterly alert services, providing you with a selection of the most important and newest publications around the world about blood transfusion and transfusion alternatives.

A screenshot of the alerts screen