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SPH GH 532 / EPI 586 : Responsible Conduct Of Research: Global And Local

Build a Search in PubMed

PubMed search example: indoor air pollution caused by wood stoves: effects on children


Step 1:  Gather separate concepts, and put into search statements:

  1. indoor AND (air pollution OR air quality)
  2. fireplace* OR stove* OR smoke
  3. child OR children OR infants OR adolescents

Step 2:  Combine Search Statements

HISTORY: click on Advanced Search from the PubMed home page. Combine your previous searches, #1 AND #2 AND #3, or combine a previous search with new keywords.

Search History is located below the Search Builder, on the Advanced Search page.

Use SEARCH BUILDER: (Advanced Search screen) to search for words in specific fields of the citation/abstract, such as words in title, words in title/abstract, or particular Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) terms.

Step 3:  Apply Filters

FILTERS: (select filters to limit results, such as publication dates (last 5 or 10 years, or custom range), English language, Humans, articles concerning particular age groups: child, adolescent, adult etc., specific research study types, for example, comparative study, or randomized controlled trials). Click Show additional filters to display more filter options.

         Try sorting by "Best Match" when viewing results.

         Try the "Similar Articles" feature when viewing an abstract for an article of interest.



Notes about Connectors (OR, AND, NOT)

  • Use “OR” when searching synonyms or alternative terms. Articles containing any of the ORed words will appear in the search results.
       (wine OR chocolate) AND cardiovascular effects

  • Terms connected with “AND” must all show up in each article retrieved.
  • “NOT” will remove articles containing particular terms
       (hiv AND cancer) NOT children – eliminates articles discussing children, including articles that discuss both adults and children.

  • You can combine terms into one search statement successfully by placing the terms in parentheses that you want to process first:
       Blood pressure AND (vehicle* OR traffic) AND (emissions OR particulates OR exhaust)



Refine Your Search

MeSH Database: Use the MeSH Database to locate appropriate Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and then to narrow your search focus.

Example: Use MeSH to do a search on indoor air pollution and asthma in children

  1. Look up indoor air pollution in MeSH to find the appropriate MeSH heading for this concept. Click the entry to see the definition and subheadings for further narrowing the topic.
  2. Check the box next to the ‘adverse effects’ subheading
  3. Click on the ‘Send To’ arrow and select ‘Send to Search Box’
  4. Look up asthma in MeSH. May add focusing subheadings, such as ‘prevention & control’ or ‘epidemiology’.  Add to search box.
  5. Click “Search PubMed” to view the results.

MeSH is useful for searching effectively for countries or regions ex. Georgia (the country), Africa South of the Sahara, for articles discussing any country within that region, and for searching for articles about specific population or ethnic groups.

For most complete search, use both subject headings and text words (keywords)

Advanced Tip: Type in search field [tags] to qualify your terms: pesticide drift[tw] AND environmental exposure[mh] (finds articles where pesticide drift appears as textwords (title, abstract, or MeSH term) and where environmental exposure is a MeSH term. Title=[ti], Author=[au], title/abstract=[tiab] etc.  Find complete list of search field tags in PubMed Help. 

PubMed search filters for research articles: CLINICAL QUERIES and TOPIC-SPECIFIC QUERIES

find under PubMed Tools on PubMed home page

Clinical Queries

Searching Clinical Queries will help locate the best research articles for therapy, diagnosis, etiology or prognosis searches, or search for systematic reviews.

Topic-Specific Queries includes health services research filters for concepts such as health care quality, or health care costs, or comparative effectiveness research.

MeSH terms for research studies in public health: