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Iowa Drug Information Service (IDIS). Facts about IDIS. Publisher University of Iowa College of Pharmacy Division of Drug Information Years Covered 1966 to Present Scope Only includes articles about drugs in human therapy

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Iowa Drug Information Service (IDIS)

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Iowa drug information service idis

Iowa Drug Information Service (IDIS)

Facts about idis

Facts about IDIS

  • Publisher

    • University of Iowa College of Pharmacy Division of Drug Information

  • Years Covered

    • 1966 to Present

  • Scope

    • Only includes articles about drugs in human therapy

  • Provides immediate access* to full-text articles from 200+ English-language biomedical journals (includes several international journals)

    • * = from 1988 to now available as PDF document in IDIS

    • Prior to 1988, articles are on microfiche

Search screen

Search Screen

Results screen with search details hidden

Results Screen (with Search Details Hidden)

Results screen with details shown

Results Screen (with Details Shown)

Controlled vocabu lary

Controlled Vocabulary

  • Similar to MeSH terms and Limits

    • Drug

    • Disease

    • Descriptor

Iowa drug information service idis


  • Valid drug name is the United States Adopted Name (USAN).

  • Valid drug number is a 7- or 8-digit modified American Hospital Formulary Service (AHFS) number.

  • Therapeutic categories are arranged in hierarchal order.

  • Examples:

    • 24000000- Cardiovascular agents

    • 24040000 – Cardiac agents

    • 24040100 – Cardiac glycosides

    • 24040103 – Digitoxin



  • Valid disease names and code numbers are from the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) (a commonly used system of classifying diseases).

  • Example:

    • If you search for “varicose vein” in the Thesaurus, using the Disease field label, or using the Disease Hierarchy, you will find several types of varicose veins and their associated codes:


      • VARICOSE VEIN NEC 456.




    • The periods in the codes subdivide the disease terms.

    • The term NEC means “not elsewhere classified”



  • There are more than 150 valid descriptor terms (with codes) which further limit information. Select the Descriptor field label to see the entire list.

  • Get to know the descriptors.

    • Use the Descriptor Definitions link to search for the definition if you don’t understand what it means, or click on the Descriptor on the Descriptors page to see the definition.

  • Examples:

    • Study Randomize Adult 135

    • Side Ef Musculoskeletal 77

    • Adm Intraarticular 114

Descriptor categories

Descriptor Categories

  • Publication Type (and population – adult, pediatric, geriatric if applicable)

    • Case report/series, reports, reviews, government documents

  • Study Type (and population – adult, pediatric, geriatric if applicable)

    • Case-controlled, cohort, and randomized studies, non-clinical studies, pivotal studies, design/analysis (annotated bibliography, cross-over, meta-analysis, n-of-one trial, practice guideline, priority clinical practice guideline, systematic review), continuing education

Descriptor categories continued

Descriptor Categories (continued)

  • Outcome

    • Clinical results, quality of life, economic outcomes, general outcomes.

  • Pharmaceutic

    • Drug analysis, drug manufacture, drug properties, pharmaceutic incompatibilities, pharmaceutics.

Descriptor categories continued1

Descriptor Categories (continued)

  • Therapeutic

    • Route of administration, clinical incompatibilities (contraindication, drug interactions, lab interactions, dietary interactions), pharmacology (dosage, dosimetry, resistance/tolerance, mechanism of action, modification of effect), pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, pharmacogenetics, drug use, side effects/adverse reactions, toxicology



  • Cross references all synonyms, trade names, or concepts to their valid drug/disease/descriptor terms/codes (valid terms appear in uppercase followed by their code numbers).

  • Note that in the Thesaurus:

    • (DR) = drug term

    • (DI) = disease term

    • (DE) = descriptor term

  • Examples:

    • thyroid dr – locates “thyroid” in the Drug field

    • thyroid di – locates “thyroid” in the Disease field

    • thyroid de – locates “thyroid” in the Descriptor field

Citation finder

Citation Finder

  • Click Citation Finder below the Descriptor field to open

  • Click Close Citation Finder to close

Citation finder continued

Citation Finder (continued)

  • Word(s) in the title and/or abstract

  • Author(s) - Click on the Author field label to access the Author Look Up

    • If you enter names manually:

      • Smith (will give you all the Smiths)

      • Smith* (will give you all the authors with Smith as the first 5 letters of their last names – Smith, Smithard, Smithee, Smithells, etc.)

      • If you know the last name, first, and second initials (if there is one), the format is: last name, space, first initial, space, second initial:

        • “Smith J” (will give you all the Smiths whose first name begins with “J”) – must be enclosed in quotation marks

        • “Smith J P” (you know the author’s last, first, and middle [if there is one] initials) – must be enclosed in quotation marks

  • Journal - Click on the Journal field label access the Journal Look Up

    • Must use the correct IDIS journal abbreviation, which may not be the same as the PubMed abbreviation

  • Volume

  • Issue

  • First page

  • IDIS article number

Search limits

Search Limits

  • Age

    • In utero (fetus)

    • Newborn to 4 weeks (neonate)

    • 1 month to 12 years (pediatric)

    • 13 to 19 years (puberty and adolescence)

    • 64 years and over (geriatric)

  • Year

    • Default is all years through current year.

    • For 1 year, enter the same year into both the starting and ending year fields.

    • For a range of years, enter the starting year and ending year.

Basic search

Basic Search

  • Searches all fields

    • Caution: Use of this field will result in MANY irrelevant citations (cross references of cross references of cross references, etc., in the Thesaurus are checked).

  • Best use of this field

    • Search for unique terms, abbreviations, or exact phrases that do not have a valid drug, disease, or descriptor term (enclose phrases in double quotes).

    • Search for one to two drugs and/or diseases and then examine the index records in the results to find more specific terms to be used in the Drug, Disease, or Descriptor fields in the Advanced Search section.

    • Combine a unique term in this field with a valid drug, disease, or descriptor term in the Advanced Search section.



  • Search for case reports in which rasburicase was used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children.

Example locate the drug

Example: Locate the Drug

  • Enter rasburicase in the Drug field and select RASBURICASE 2000004 from the drop-down list


  • Click on the Drug field label to access the Drug Look Up

    • Enter rasburicaseand select RASBURICASE 2000004 then click Submit


  • Use the Thesaurus

    • Enter rasburicase dr, press Enter(locates rasburicase in the Drug field), select RASBURICASE 2000004 then click Submit

    • You could omit the “dr” and select the drug from the drop-down list.

Example locate the disease

Example: Locate the Disease

  • Enter acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the Disease field and select Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia = LEUKEMIA, LYMPHOID, ACUTE 204.0 from the drop-down list


  • Click on the Disease field label to access the Disease Look Up

    • Enter acute lymphoblastic leukemiaand select Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia then click Submit


  • Use the Thesaurus

    • Enter acute lymphoblastic leukemia di, press Enter(locates acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the Disease field), select LEUKEMIA, LYMPHOID, ACUTE 204. and then click Submit

    • You could omit the “di” and select the disease from the drop-down list.

  • "

Example locate the descriptor

Example: Locate the Descriptor

  • Descriptor

    • Enter case report in the Descriptor field and select the one that applies to children - CASE REPORT PEDIATRIC 1 - from the drop-down list


  • Click on the Descriptor field label to access the Descriptors page

    • Go to the Case Report/Series section of the Publication Type box and select Pediatric 1


  • Use the Thesaurus

    • Enter case report de, press Enter(locates case report in the Descriptor field), select CASE REPORT PEDIATRIC 1 then click Submit

    • You could omit the “de” and select the descriptor from the drop-down list.

Example results

Example: Results

  • This search yields 3 results (articles 651723, 559551, and 505702)

  • To see all the terms that were used to index the article, change the “Output/Display Format” to Full Results and click Adjust. This is similar to looking at the full citation in PubMed to get an idea of other terms you might want to search for.

    • Note about Full Results: You can work backwards if you find a relevant citation in another database; locate the article in IDIS using the other fields or general terms, look at the “Full Results” of what you get to see the valid terms, plug them in, and redo the search to locate more articles on the subject.

  • Click on the article number to read the article.

Idis search tips

IDIS Search Tips

General search tips

General Search Tips

  • The key to successful searching in the IDIS database is the correct use the Drug, Disease, and Descriptor fields.

  • Before executing the search, make sure your operators make sense. If not, manually correct them. If you use a field with a default operator (“and” versus “or”), it may not be the one you want.

Truncating words

Truncating Words

  • When searching the Thesaurus, use the asterisk (*) to truncate words. This will allow you to find the term if it isn’t indexed exactly the way you think it is. For example, “kidney ston*” would find kidney stone, kidney stones, kidney stonage, kidney stoning (all of these terms aren’t in IDIS or even real terms, but this is just to give you an example). Think about appropriate places to truncate terms.

Words terms not in controlled vocabulary

Words/Terms Not in Controlled Vocabulary

  • Not all words/terms will have a controlled vocabulary term. If you try your absolute best and cannot find an appropriate term, try searching for the word or term in the Title and/or Abstract field or in the Basic Search field.

Sources of help within idis

Sources of Help Within IDIS

  • On the right side of the screen

    • Training Videos

    • Help section



  • The Thesaurus is the official place to find controlled vocabulary terms if you are having trouble finding them through the autosuggest feature or through the Look Up feature.

  • Don’t forget to add DR, DI, or DE, depending on what you are looking for so that you won’t be presented with terms in other fields.

Exploding drug classes

Exploding Drug Classes

  • Explode drug classes by truncating drug codes.

  • For example, if you search 24040100 (cardiac glycosides – a class of drugs), your search will only retrieve articles that talk about that class in general. It will not locate articles about the individual drugs in the class. If you wanted information about all cardiac glycosides, you should search 240401*. This will pick up 24040101 (deslanoside), 24040102 (digitalis), 24040103 (digoxin), etc.

Article types without descriptors

Article Types without Descriptors

  • Search Author field for:

    • “Editorial” - editorial

    • “Letter to ed” – letter to the editor

  • Search Disease field for:

    • “Corrigendum” – erratum, addendum, retraction (type will be indicated in Title field)

Side effect adverse reaction caused by a drug

Side/Effect Adverse Reaction Caused by a Drug

  • Locate articles about a side effect/adverse reaction that a drug causes:

    • Drug:

      • Enter the drug that is causing the side effect/adverse reaction.

    • Disease:

      • In general, you won’t need a disease term because the drug will likely cause the side effect/adverse reaction in all diseases.

    • Descriptor:

      • Use the appropriate side effect/adverse effect descriptor. Searching the Thesaurus for “drug induced” and the side effect/adverse reaction that you are looking for will usually provide the correct descriptor.

Drug used to treat side effects adverse reactions

Drug Used to Treat Side Effects/Adverse Reactions

  • Locate articles about a drug that is used to treat a side effect/adverse reaction of a drug:

    • Drug:

      • Enter the drug that is being used to treat the side effect, NOT the drug that caused it .

    • Disease:

      • Enter “TX/AE-Drug/Chemical E999.” plus the disease term/code for the disease that the drug caused.

    • Descriptor:

      • Generally will not use a side effect/adverse reaction descriptor unless it is a side effect/adverse reaction caused by the drug that is in the Drug field.

Drug interactions

Drug Interactions

  • Locate articles about two or more drugs that interact:

    • Drug:

      • Enter all drugs that interact (use AND operator).

    • Disease:

      • Generally won’t use

    • Descriptor:

      • “Drug interaction 50” and “Drug combination 16”

        • Alternatively, you can enter:

      • 50 and 16

Drug used to prevent a disease

Drug Used to Prevent a Disease

  • Find articles about a drug(s) that is used to prevent a disease:

    • Drug:

      • Enter the drug(s) that is/are being use to prevent the disease.

    • Disease:

      • Enter the term “Prophylaxis NEC V07.” (locate by entering prevention in the Disease field) plus the disease term/code that the drug is preventing.

    • Descriptor:

      • As indicated.

Suicide overdose poisoning


  • Find information about a drug that someone has overdosed or been overdosed on, has tried to commit suicide with, has been poisoned with, or is showing signs of toxicity from:

    • Drug:

      • Enter the drug(s) of interest.

    • Disease:

      • Enter the term/code “Suicide/Overdose/Poisoning E950.”

    • Descriptor:

      • As indicated.

Logging off

Logging Off

  • Please remember to log off (don’t “x” out) of each session (via the “Log Off” link at the top of the IDIS search screen).

  • Your site may have a limited number of concurrent users, and exiting through the Log Off link will free up a place for another user.

  • Login