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About MEDLINE

MEDLINE is produced by the National Library of Medicine (NLM).  It includes abstracts to publications from Index Medicus, the International Nursing Index and the Index to Dental Literature; additional table of contents information for more titles provided by the British Library Document Supply Center.

MEDLINE is a premier medical database available via a variety of interfaces either free or fee. The different interfaces have advantages and disadvantages. Some interfaces may provide additional content. Years of coverage may vary, especially for individual journal titles. Just because a database includes SOME journal titles back to the 1940s does not mean it includes ALL titles back that far.

At Indiana State University, the MEDLINE content is available via the following databases.

What are MeSH Terms?

MeSH (Medical Subject Headings), the National Library of Medicine's controlled vocabulary thesaurus, consists of terms (descriptors) from the Thesaurus in a hierarchical structure that permits searching at various levels of specificity.

Many databases contain a thesaurus. This is a directory of assigned Subject Headings. Searching for a subject heading instead of a word that happens to appear anywhere in a record can reduce the number of irrelevant records retrieved from your search. Some databases, like MEDLINE, will automatically include synonyms in the search, whether you want them to appear or not, so check the rules. This is called thesaurus mapping.

        cancer                          

Finds cancer and neoplasm when thesaurus mapping occurs in MEDLINE.

        "heart attack"              

Myocardial Infarction is searched as a MeSH term in MEDLINE, in addition to “heart attack” being searched as text words.

Most databases assign subject categories in a hierarchy from general to specific. Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) in the MEDLINE database are hierarchical. 

In other words, MeSH terms describe what an article is about and are used to label all articles on a topic even if different authors use different words for the same concept (such as cancer vs. neoplasm vs. tumor).

To Explode a Subject Heading in a search includes all subject headings subordinate to the Subject Search Term. A search for the following term in MEDLINE retrieves the following results.  


Diabetes Mellitus                          matches records with Diabetes Mellitus as a subject heading

Diabetes Mellitus (Exploded)     matches records with Diabetes Mellitus; Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental; Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1; Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2; & Diabetes, Gestational as subject headings

Subject headings are VERY important in searching health science databases. CINAHL and MEDLINE are specifically designed to be searched using the subject headings.              

  • Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases
    • Metabolic Diseases
      • Glucose Metabolism Disorders
        • Glycosuria
          • Glycosuria, Renal
        • Hyperglycemia
        • Hyperinsulinism
        • Diabetes Mellitus
          • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental
          • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1
          • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
          • Diabetes, Gestational

Table 2

EBSCO
Host Web

Web of Knowledge

PubMed

Truncation
(any #)

*

 

*

Wildcard
(one char)

?

 

 

Default

W3
within, in order

AND

AND

Phrase

“…”

“…”

“…”

AND
All of these

AND

AND
[default]   

 AND
[default]

OR
Any of these

OR

OR

 

NOT

NOT

NOT

 

proximity
(x is any number)

Wx
within, in order

Nx
near, any order

NEAR/x

SAME

 

limit to full text?

yes

 

 

limit to peer-reviewed?

yes

 

 

Use MeSH to Build a Better PubMed Query

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MEDLINE via EBSCOhost

MEDLINE via EBSCO - searching for evidence-based practice