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WHSL Clinical Questions using PubMed: When to Use MeSH for Clinical Queries

The first in a series of evidence-based medicine guides

Why MeSH?

MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) should always be used unless you are unable to find a relevant MeSH term.

MEDLINE uses a  a controlled vocabulary, meaning that there is a specific set of terms used to describe each article. Familiarity with this vocabulary will make you a better PubMed searcher.

Click here for a quick tutorial on how to search the PubMed database using two or more MeSH terms in combination.

Important Hint

Opening and using multiple tabs on your Internet browser will make it easier to look up multiple terms on MeSH. You can then check MeSH terms, and add these to your Clincal Queries search strategy, without closing your Clinical Queries page.

Searching Clinical Queries using MeSH

  1. Find an apporpriate MeSH term, eg. osteoporosis
  2. There are 11 possible MeSH terms you could select from the list when you search for osteoporosis on MeSH, eg. postmenopausal osteoporosis, juvenile osteoporosis, etc.
    1. Click on the hyperlinked term Osteoporosis
  3. On the right hand side of the page, you will see a hyperlink to Clinical Queries
  4. Click on this link (Clinical Queries)
  5. Depending on your clinical question, choose one of the 5 clinical categories from the drop down menu:
    1. Etiology
    2. Diagnosis
    3. Prognosis
    4. Therapy
    5. Clinical Prediction Guides
  6. Depending on your clinical question, chose either Broad or Narrow for your Scope  
  7. Your search is automatically run
  8. Open full text articles from your results page/s


Note: It is NOT POSSIBLE to apply Filters to your Clinical Queries search. You need to search as precisely as possible if you are using Clinical Queries. For example, if you want to restrict your search to articles relating to osteoporosis in men, your search statement in the search bar should read "osteoporosis AND male". You can then add your desired Clinical Category and your Scope.

However, you can set Filters once you select "see all" citations (at the bottom of your 5 quick results in Clinical Queries). You can also preset your Filters before you start your Clinical Queries search, if  you have run an earlier search in PubMed. In both options you are now searching the PubMed database again, and this allows the setting of Filters.