The choice of which terms to enter for your search, especially in PubMed, requires you to build what is known as a search strategy.
Using the PICO formula may help to build a good search strategy
It looks easy. It can be very tricky. It is absolutely invaluable.
Minutes spent properly formulating your question will save you hours in searching (and help you to get better marks in your IR OSCE stations!).
The PICO model will help you to construct your "foreground" clinical questions.
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.
Note: It is not always necessary to include all four facets (components) in your PICO search statement, especially if you can find suitable MeSH terms to use in your search. By using prognosis in your Clinical Query search on binge drinking, for example, you will automatically include the prognosis for long-term mortalilty, as well as other outcomes. Sometimes your search will yield too few results if your search strategy is too specific.
However, you should minimally include P and I to begin with when searching under Clinical Queries in PubMed.
P: pharyngitis [adult]
C: [no antibiotics]