Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is a decision-making process based on the conscious and judicious use of the best available scientific evidence. However, the exponential increase in the amount of information currently available likely exceeds the capacity of human-only analysis. In this context, artificial intelligence (AI) and its branches such as machine learning (ML) can be used to facilitate human efforts in analyzing the literature to foster EBM. The present scoping review aimed to examine the use of AI in the automation of biomedical literature survey and analysis with a view to establishing the state-of-the-art and identifying knowledge gaps.
Materials and methods
Comprehensive searches of the main databases were performed for articles published up to June 2022 and studies were selected according to inclusion and exclusion criteria. Data were extracted from the included articles and the findings categorized.
The total number of records retrieved from the databases was 12,145, of which 273 were included in the review. Classification of the studies according to the use of AI in evaluating the biomedical literature revealed three main application groups, namely assembly of scientific evidence (n = 127; 47%), mining the biomedical literature (n = 112; 41%) and quality analysis (n = 34; 12%). Most studies addressed the preparation of systematic reviews, while articles focusing on the development of guidelines and evidence synthesis were the least frequent. The biggest knowledge gap was identified within the quality analysis group, particularly regarding methods and tools that assess the strength of recommendation and consistency of evidence.
Our review shows that, despite significant progress in the automation of biomedical literature surveys and analyses in recent years, intense research is needed to fill knowledge gaps on more difficult aspects of ML, deep learning and natural language processing, and to consolidate the use of automation by end-users (biomedical researchers and healthcare professionals).