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WHSL Clinical Questions using PubMed: Example

The first in a series of evidence-based medicine guides


Ben Dlamini is a 44 year old lecturer, suffering from an acute attack of pharyngitis. He has asked for a prescription for an antibiotic to treat his condition, as he is worried that he will not be able to deliver a lecture to his students and they have an important exam shortly. You need to search for the evidence as to whether this is advisable.

PICO Search Strategy

P: pharyngitis [adult]

I:  antibiotics

C: [no antibiotics]

O: [benefit/harm]

Practice is Essential

Using  MeSH with Clinical Queries is tricky. It is essential that you practise searching. You need to remember how you search PubMed, and apply this knowledge to a Clinical Queries search as well.

Searching Clinical Queries on PubMed

Log on to PubMed

  1. Select MeSH Database
  2. Type antibiotics into the MeSH search bar
  3. Results: 23 MeSH terms found
  4. Click on the hyperlinked term Anti-Bacterial Agents
  5. On the right hand side of the page, click the box Add to search builder
  6. Type pharyngitis into the MeSH search bar
  7. Pharyngitis is a MeSH term
  8. Add "pharyngitis" [Mesh] to your PubMed Search Builder Box and copy the search strategy 
  9. Below the PubMed Search Builder Box is a Related Information listing Click on Clinical Queries
  10. Delete any search term that may appear in the search box of PubMed Clinical Queries
  11. Paste your saved search strategy in the search box and click on search
  12. Results: 1909 clinical studies and 107 systematic reviews (25 April 2017)
  13. If you add the textword AND adult  to the search bar in Clinical Queries and click on search , you will refine your search further
  14. Results: 825 clinical studies and 37 systematic reviews (25 April 2017)
  15. You can also filter results using the Ages filter, then choosing Adults: 19+ years