Use a research question of your own, or use an example research question below to develop a search strategy. List the participants and intervention and find as many synonyms as you can for each term. Use the internet to help you, and try and find an article on the topic that might give you additional keywords.
Example Research Questions:
Alendronate for preventing tooth loss in postmenopausal women
Hypnosis for anxious children undergoing dental treatment
Occlusal adjustment for treating and preventing temporomandibular joint disorders in adults
For example, if the opening sentence of the abstract is:
“ This article looks at cancer but exclusively cancer in adults and not cancer in children”
The search “cancer NOT children” will not pick up this potentially relevant paper, as you have asked the database to search for cancer but not children, and both of these terms are in the opening sentence of the abstract
Searching for participant information can be difficult e.g.
if you are looking for adults rather than children, putting the term “adults” in will not necessarily help as “adult” might not be in all the articles you want to retrieve (could be “patients” or “participants”)
Search terms for participants should therefore be used with caution!
Most helpful when there are specific groups
PubMed has search limits that can be added and tested as part of the search
Go to the National Library of Medicine MeSH browser: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/mesh/MBrowser.html
Enter the search terms and synonyms and make a note of the MeSH terms for your topic. Do any need to be exploded?
2. Look at your identified synonyms and think about how to build a free-text search:
Can any of the terms be truncated? Are there any alternative spellings? (for example, think about US English v British English spelling: -ize versus -ise or -ization versus -isation.) Are there any terms that can be represented by initials alone? How should these be represented in the search?
3. Now test your search in PubMed (use Advanced Search)