Medline 2 – Searching with Subject Headings (AKA MeSH)


In this video I’m going to show you how
to search using MeSH terms. In Medline, the subject headings are called
MeSH, which stands for Medical Subject Headings, and they are assigned to every article based
on its content. Using MeSH terms in your search will help
you to retrieve more relevant results. It’s important to be aware that it can take
6 months to 2 years for MeSH headings to be applied to records in Medline. To use MeSH terms, ensure the “map term
to subject heading” box here, just below the search bar, is selected. This will let the database suggest MeSH terms
that it thinks are appropriate based on what you type into the search box. For example, let’s enter the term “nursing
homes” in the search box and click search. We can see that the term nursing homes is
a MeSH term because it appears at the top of the list, and is highlighted. Sometimes the term you enter will have an
identical MeSH term, like our example, and other times it won’t, so instead Medline
may suggest a MeSH term that is a synonym of your term. If Medline has suggested a subject heading
you think matches your search term, you can view Medline’s definition of the subject
heading by clicking on the circular icon on the far right hand side here in the scope
column – this is also known as a scope note. It’s good practice to always check the scope
note before adding a subject heading to your search. When you’re finished looking at the scope
note, you can click the back button in your browser. If you decide to include the subject heading
in your search, click directly on the hyperlinked term in the subject heading column, and then
click again at the top here on full tree. The full tree view is like a hierarchy, your
selected MeSH term is highlighted in blue to help you see its place. We can see that the broader term associated
with nursing homes is “residential facilities”. We can also see that nursing homes has two
narrower terms, “intermediate care facilities” and “skilled nursing facilities”. Finally, nursing homes also has a number of
related terms, like assisted living facilities, group homes, homes for the aged. Often you can find important subject headings
in the broader terms, related terms, and narrower terms around your subject heading in the full
tree. This is why opening the full tree is so important. Subject headings help address to the problem
of synonyms in medical literature. Theoretically, articles in which authors use
different phrasing such as convalescent home or nursing care home, will be indexed, or
tagged, with this subject heading, thus grouping all articles about nursing homes under the
same subject heading, making them much easier to find. There may be other subject headings that also
describe our concept in the MeSH hierarchy, such as Homes for the Aged, but for now, let’s
move ahead with nursing homes. To add a MeSH term to your search, you can
choose whether to explode the term or not. To explode the term, you can click on the
box to the right of your term here, and if you scroll up you’ll notice this is in the
explode column. If you choose to explode your term, the database
will automatically search for the term you selected, as well as the narrower terms. These terms will be combined with OR in your
search. If you don’t want to search for the narrower
terms, or you only want to include some of the narrower terms, but not all of them, you
can select only the ones you want by checking off the boxes beside each individual term
on the left side. Once you have selected the term, and decided
whether to search all, some, or none of the narrower terms, scroll back up to the top. Before running the search, make sure that
the “combine with” box here on the left is set to OR. This is the default, and we don’t want to
change that. Now we can click continue. Medline will now prompt you to select subheadings,
which we are not going to use, so we’ll click continue here at the top. Now Medline has run our search, and we can
see that it appears on line one of our search history. You’ll notice there’s a forward slash
beside our term as well. This means that the term was searched as a
MeSH term. You’ll also notice the three letters, exp,
at the front of the term, this means that the term has been exploded and Medline will
show us results for nursing homes, as well as its two narrower terms that we saw in the
full tree. You can now continue searching by going back
to the search bar, and adding more MeSH terms following the same steps. For example, if I want to search Homes for
the Aged as well, I can enter that term in the search box and hit search. Next, I’ll click on the term and get into
the full tree. I can also view the scope note to make sure
it meets my requirements. Then I’ll click the checkbox, scroll back
up to the top and click continue. Again, we’ll bypass the subheading section
by clicking continue and now we can see that both subject headings are searched in our
search history here on line one and line two. It’s good practice to search subject headings
on their own line so that it’s easy to read and to make changes later. Try to avoid the common pitfall of rushing
through subject heading selection. One good shortcut you can use is the forward
slash code. If you already know your subject heading already,
you can type it in the search box here and end it with a forward slash. For example, if I type in homes for the aged/
it will retrieve the exact same results. If you’re not sure what to search, go through
the mapping process demonstrated earlier in this screencast. If you have any questions about Medline please
feel free to contact us at [email protected]

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