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Searching Medline. Helen Rowlandson Principal Medicines Information Pharmacist London Medicines Information (Northwick Park) London. Jan 2008 course - participants responses. 21 questionnaires returned

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searching medline

Searching Medline

Helen Rowlandson

Principal Medicines Information Pharmacist

London Medicines Information

(Northwick Park) London

jan 2008 course participants responses
Jan 2008 course - participants responses
  • 21 questionnaires returned
  • More than half have had formal training (during pre-reg, at university, during diploma/certificate, or by NHS library service)
  • Informal training in-house in MI service
  • Most participants use Dialog and a few use Ovid
  • Of the Dialog users most use Advanced search option
main issues problems
Main issues/problems
  • Searches produce too many hits - how do you narrow your search down?
  • Searches produce irrelevant hits – how to you find relevant hits for your topic?
  • Searches produce no hits – why is this?
  • Finding/deciding which are the relevant search terms to use –use of the MeSH browser/ MESH descriptors/MESH headings/thesaurus
  • What to do if a drug name isn’t a MESH heading
  • Using search terms across both Embase and Medline
  • Use of explode function, major descriptors and subheadings
session aims
Session aims
  • To understand the concepts of a basic search strategy in Medline
  • To describe the MeSH thesaurus in detail so that you will be able to apply MeSH to use Medline efficiently
  • To carry out advanced Medline searches
  • Searching basics – a refresher
  • What is Medline?
  • Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
  • NLM’s MeSH browser
  • Searching tools
  • Dialog software – the basics
  • Worked examples
searching basics a refresher
Searching basics – a refresher
  • Large databases – electronic searching is essential
  • A controlled vocabulary or a thesaurus is necessary
  • A means of combining terms is also required e.g. BOOLEAN operators

Boolean operators

  • A AND B





what is medline
What is Medline?
  • Vast source of medical information
      • Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary, Psychology
  • Covers
      • Clinical medicine, anatomy, pharmacology, toxicology, genetics, microbiology, pathology, environmental health, occupational medicine, psychology, biomedical technology
  • 5,000 journals indexed, 70 countries
searching medline9
Searching Medline
  • Use indexing system - MeSH thesaurus
    • Controlled vocabulary with ~23,000 descriptors
    • Each represents a single concept
    • Tree structure - hierarchal
    • Constantly changing
    • 600+ added per year
medical subject headings
Medical Subject Headings
  • Articles indexed by 3 tier system
    • MeSH descriptor (MeSH heading)
    • MeSH qualifier (MeSH subheading)
    • Items mentioned (check tags)
    • Articles are indexed & then double checked by another indexer  must agree
mesh browser
MeSH Browser
  • Open the Internet and type:

  • Right click & then click on “create a shortcut”
  • Now click on “Navigate from tree top”

NLM MeSH Browser

mesh examples
MeSH Examples
  • Kidney Failure
  • Depression
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • PTSD
  • Fluoxetine

NLM MeSH Browser

searching tools
Searching Tools
  • Explode
    • Includes everything below in the tree structure
  • Focus (Major)
    • Only includes articles where the MeSH heading (descriptor) is the main focus of the article

NLM MeSH Browser

quick questions
Quick questions…
  • What is the correct MeSH term to use for angina?
  • And if you exploded this term, what term(s) would you be also including in your search?

NLM MeSH Browser

subheadings qualifiers
Subheadings (qualifiers)
  • Subheadings (qualifiers) refine your search
    • What aspect of the main heading is the author writing about or discussing?
    • Look at the definitions of the subheading e.g.:
      • Administration and Dosage
      • Adverse Effects
      • Analysis
      • Chemistry
      • Diagnostic use
      • Economics
      • History

NLM MeSH Browser

check tags
Check Tags
  • All relevant tags are attached to the article
  • These are essentially used as “limit” functions
    • Human
    • Child
    • Adult
    • Aged
    • Male
    • Female
    • etc..
  • Type in “female” and look at annotation
check tags17
Check tags

Limits – publication types

  • If you want to search for papers that are meta analyses use the publication type limit function. Articles will then be meta-analyses
  • If you use the MeSH heading ‘meta-analysis as a topic’ from tree E the articles you will get will be about meta-analysis as a study design(methods etc..)
  • Look at the MESH browser for definitions
supplementary concepts
Supplementary Concepts
  • Searches for substances that are not defined in MeSH (ie don’t have MeSH terms)
  • Supplementary chemical record
  • >30,000 substances undergoing clinical development – but not all will become commercially available medicines
  • Depending on software - search by CAS registry number and combine with text word search using OR (not necessary in Dialog)
quick question
Quick question…
  • What is directly above olanzapine in the MeSH tree?
  • What is its CAS registry number?
medline mesh recap
Medline & MeSH Recap
  • Successful searching is finding correct indexing term
  • MeSH headings
  • Scope Notes
  • Focus/Explode
  • Subheadings/Check Tags
  • Supplementary concepts
accessing medline
Accessing Medline?







dialog software
Dialog software
  • Open Internet and type:

  • Click “Athens users click here”
  • Right click & then click on “create a shortcut”
  • Enter Athens password
dialog software23
Dialog software
  • Use advanced search (avoid ‘easy search’)
  • Medline 1951 to date or 1996 to date
  • 3 options to search for terms:
    • Thesaurus mapping
    • Browse headings
    • Enter a term

Dialog NHS

dialog software24
Dialog software
  • Don’t use punctuation e.g.
    • Fatigue syndrome, chronic in NLM MeSH
    • Fatigue syndrome chronic in Dialog
  • Subheadings
  • Tree structure
  • Limits
  • Show titles

Dialog NHS

worked example 1
Worked example 1
  • Are there any recent papers about SSRIs or SNRIs being used in the treatment of Huntington disease?
worked example 2
Worked example 2
  • Are there any recent RCTs of the UK-available acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (galantamine, rivastigmine, donepezil) for Lewy Body Dementia?
worked example 3
Worked example 3
  • Are there any articles which discuss using high dose vitamin supplementation to treat autistic disorders ?
  • NB – remember that your enquirer’s way of describing what he is asking for may not necessarily be exactly how MeSH describes it….