When searching medical literature, you can use Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) to create targeted searches that will help you locate the most relevant results.
Additionally, you can develop targeted, effective searches with strategic keyword searching. This is a good option when you’re researching a relatively new phenomenon and MeSH or other controlled vocabulary terms haven’t yet been added.
MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) is the National Library of Medicine's hierarchical controlled vocabulary of biomedical terminology used for indexing articles found in databases such as Medline, PubMed, CINAHL, and Cochrane. MeSH reviewers read articles before they're entered into these databases and assign appropriate MeSH headings to each. MeSH terminology pulls together all articles on a concept including synonyms (e.g., myocardial infarction/heart attack) and allows for spelling variations (e.g.,estrogen/oestrogen).
View this tutorial for more information about MeSH headings.
Boolean connectors are used to combine concepts when searching. The three most common operators are AND, OR and NOT. The operator you select will determine the number of results you retrieve.
Example: dementia NOT Alzheimer’s will return results that do not include Alzheimer’s.
Quotation marks (“ “) are used for phrase searching. When you surround your search terms with quote marks, you’re telling the database that the words must appear as an exact phrase (e.g., “kidney failure).