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Evidence-based Practice in Healthcare

This guide is designed to assist health care professionals and students become effective and efficient users of the medical literature.

Limiting Your Search by Study Type

Option 1: Your Search Strategy

A method for improving the retrieval of high-quality studies applicable to clinical practice is to include search terms that select studies at advanced stages of testing for clinical application. Including one, or a combination of these terms, in a PubMed search strategy will selectively retrieve evidence-based literature that is more likely to answer clinical questions.

Example: ("randomized control trial" OR RCT) AND patient safety

Option 2: Clinical Queries Search

PubMed has a special search feature called Clinical Queries. Within Clinical Queries, three types of filters are featured: Clinical Study Categories, Systematic Reviews, and Medical Genetics.

  • The Clinical Study Categories filter searches on questions of therapy, diagnosis, etiology, prognosis, or clinical prediction guides by looking for the highest levels of evidence in the literature. Clinical filters are imposed behind the scenes. See the Table of Clinical Filters link or below you will find a table as well.
  • The Systematic Reviews filter searches for citations identified as systematic reviews, meta-analyses, reviews of clinical trials, evidence-based medicine, consensus development conferences, guidelines, and citations to articles from journals specializing in review studies of value to clinicians.
  • The Medical Genetics filter searches for citations on seven different topics in medical genetics (diagnosis, differential diagnosis, clinical description, management, genetic counseling, molecular genetics, or genetic testing) or a combination of all topics in medical genetics
Option 3: Filter After Search

When you can see your results list in PubMed, on the left, you will see filtering options which can include study types.

Clinical Filters PubMed Searches: A Table

Therapy Problems:The best single term strategy is Randomized Controlled Trial [PT]

MeSH [MeSH]

Publication Type [pt]

Subheading [sh]

Text word [tw]

Double Blind Method [MeSH]

Treatment Outcome [MeSH]

Randomized Controlled Trial [pt]

Controlled Clinical Trial [pt]

Clinical Trial [pt]

Meta-Analysis [pt]

Multicenter Study [pt]

Therapy [sh]

Placebo* [tw]

Random* [tw]

Diagnosis Problems: The single best search term is Sensitivity and Specificity [MeSH]

MeSH [MeSH]

Publication Type [pt]

Subheading [sh]

Sensitivity and Specificity [MeSH]

Comparative Study [MeSH]

Differential Diagnosis [MeSH]

False Negative Reactions [MeSH]

False Positive Reactions [MeSH]

Predictive Value of Tests [MeSH]

Clinical Trial [pt]

Meta-Analysis [pt]

Diagnosis [sh]

Prognosis Problems

MeSH [MeSH]

Title Word [ti]

Cohort Studies [MeSH]

Disease Progression [MeSH]

Morbidity [MeSH]

Mortality [MeSH]

Outcome Assessment [MeSH]

Prognosis [MeSH]

Survival Analysis [MeSH]

 

Course [ti]

Etiology Problems

MeSH [MeSH]

Publication Type [pt]

Subheading [sh]

Text word [tw]

 

Case-Control Studies [MeSH]

Causality [MeSH]

Cohort Studies [MeSH]

Comparative Study [MeSH]

Follow-up Studies [MeSH]

Risk [MeSH]  (Explode)

Longitudinal Studies [MeSH]

Randomized Controlled Trial [pt]

Meta-Analysis [pt]

Etiology [sh]

Odds [tw] AND Ratio* [tw]

Risk [tw]

 

 

Questions of Harm

MeSH [MeSH]

Publication Type [pt]

Subheading [sh]

Text word [tw

Risk [MeSH]  (Explode)

Consensus Development Conference [pt]

Consensus Development conference, NIH [pt]

Guideline [pt]

Practice Guideline [pt]

Meta-Analysis [pt]

Adverse Effects [sh]

Toxicity [sh]

Risk [tw]