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BNURS 460 A & B: Translating Scholarly Knowledge to Nursing Practice (Eaton, and Iyer), [and Fall 2023, BNURS 360A: Critical Reading & Information Literacy (Wade)]: PubMed

UW Bothell Nursing Students

Searching in PubMed (MedLine) for Randomized Controlled Trials and Research

PubMed:  (Publicly accessible - but some full text is UW Restricted). The National Library of Medicine's search service to over 36 million citations in Medline and related databases. Try out the cite feature! (UW Health Sciences Library How-to Guide.) (UW HSL PubMed Free Account Guide: MyNCBI.)

There are several videos in the Quick Tours section of the PubMed Online Training page. Check PubMed News for updates too.

The PubMed interface smart search recommends searching without punctuation first. If needed, use the asterisk (*) symbol to retrieve multiple variations of a word; e.g. nurs* will retrieve nurse, nursed, nurses, and nursing. (Search tips for this database)

If you are off-campus and want to access the UW Restricted full text in PubMed, click on the PubMed link above and you should be prompted to login with you UW NetID and password.

PubMed Guides and Tutorials:

From the Using PubMed in Evidence-Based Practice-Training Course tutorials:

Use PubMed to Find Relevant Articles (section)

  • Perform a Clinical Queries Search and Filter Results. Screenshots illustrate how to limit to systematic reviews, clinical queries, and more. 
  • Connect Search Terms to MeSH Terms. Screenshots  include searching with the Advanced Search Builder, viewing MeSH Terms in search details. Make sure to scroll down to view the interactive tutorial "PubMed Subject Search: How it Works" located in the Additional Materials section at the bottom of the page, and the "Try-It Exercise" if you would like more practice.

PICO Scenario and Try-It Exercises:

To Search for Research Articles in PubMed:

1. Type your search into the search box. Examples: registered nurse job satisfaction
                                                                             improve nurses job satisfaction retention

If needed, you can add the word qualitative, or quantitative to your search. (Optional -- refer to the UW HSL guide for "Finding Qualitative Research Articles")
            Examples: -- native americans diabetes qualitative
                               -- aged female chronic pain quantitative

Search for qualitative articles with MeSH Terms, by adding them to your search words:

  • There is no "qualitative" publication type in PubMed, but according the UW HSL Finding Qualitative Research Articles: PubMed page you can type in or search by the following MeSH Terms: Qualitative Research; Interviews as Topic; Focus Groups; Nursing Methodology Research; Anecdotes as Topic; Narration; Video Recording; Tape Recording; Personal Narratives as Topic; and Observational Study as Topic.

2. (Optional) Try locating a couple Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) that are relevant to your search topic that you can use.

  • You can select a new search strategy from this list of MeSH terms to do a more focused search. Copy and paste them into a list for you to refer to.
  • Recent articles may not have publication types or MeSH terms assigned yet.

MeSH Terms Searching:

  • Mesh on Demand tool - copy and paste in your research question/draft evidence-based literature review topic into it and it will suggest MeSH terms, and link to articles (PubMed ID links = PMID). It takes a minute for it to process your request. Some articles will be available online, and others will not.
    • This tool is outside of the UW system, so you will have to bring the article titles, or PubMed IDs, back into the UW system to see what full text we have available. You can search by article title in the UW Libraries Search system, or by using this PubMed link.
  • Mesh Database - search for one concept at a time
    • The MeSH Database is linked on the PubMed home page under the Explore header.
  • (Optional) MeSH Tutorial


3. (Optional) After you have completed a search, use the PubMed Filters, located on the left side of your search results page. They include Text availability, Article attribute, Article types, Publication dates, Species, Languages, Sex, Subjects, Journal categories, and Ages.

  • When filters are selected a “Filters applied” message will display on the results page.
  • Once you select a filter, it stays on until you turn it off, or you start a new search session on another day. To turn off filters, click either on the “Clear all” link to remove all the filters, uncheck the individual filter, or the "Reset all filters" button.

How to filter to Randomized Controlled Trials, and by Publication Date

  1. Under the "Article Type" header, click in the box to the left of "Randomized Controlled Trial." The screen will change, and Randomized Controlled Trial results will be displayed. 
  2. Publication Date" header, click in the box to the left of "10 years." The screen will change.

PubMed Filters including Article Types and Publication Date

  • To see more article type filters click on the Additional Filters button, located beneath the filters. 
  • Below is a list of potentially relevant article types (Ask your professor which article types are acceptable to use):
    1. Classical Article-- also known as a seminal article.
    2. Quantitative article types: Clinical Trial, Controlled Clinical Trial, Multicenter Study, Pragmatic Clinical Trial, Randomized Controlled Trial, and Validation Study,
    3. Review article types: Meta-Analysis, Review, and Systematic Review

For more information on article types/publication types see the publication characteristics (publication types) - scope notes page (from the National Library of Medicine).

(Optional) Another PubMed tool that students like: