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MeSH on PubMed: Example Searches

This guide will assist you to use the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) when you are searching in PubMed

Search Strategy Step 1

1. Put in your PICO terms individually to see if they have a MeSH term (Warning! Not all terms have a MeSH term). As you type in your term they will give you a list of potential terms below that might match your topic. Select the one that is most applicable or just type out your term and press Search.  

Search Strategy Step 2

2. The term that I put in Cardiac Arrest is clearly not the MeSH term, but it is what I was looking for. 

On this page you can do several things:

  • Select Subheading(s)
  • Restrict to MeSH Major Topic (if you want the MeSH term to be one of the primary subjects of this paper)
  • Do not include MeSH terms found below this term in the MeSH hierarchy. Use this if you are getting too many irrelevant articles. 

Search Strategy Step 3

3. Now you will want to add your MeSH term to your search builder

Once you press the button Add to search builder (see image below) the official MeSH term will show up in your Search Builder box, and then you can either continue to build from there or you can send the search to PubMed and bring them in individually and put them together at the end (this would be my preference). 

*This is also how you would document your search strategy term "Heart Arrest" [Mesh]


Search Strategy Step 4

4. If you did take my advice and add each term individually you will need to visit the Advanced Search Builder to combine all of these search terms. 

  • One of the benefits to using this method is that you can see how many results each term will give you, thus you will know how they are effecting your overall numbers. And they will show you exactly how to document your overall search strategy. 

Search Strategy Step 5

5. Combine your results by clicking on Actions ... by each number and adding the selected terms to the Query box

  • For the First Term "Heart Arrest" [Mesh] when you select the ... you will want to select the option Add Query
  • For the Second Term "Electric Countershock" [Mesh] when you select the ... you will want to select the option Add with AND
  • For the Third Term "Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation" [Mesh] when you select the ... you will want to also select the option Add with AND
  • Once all are included in your Query box, make sure you have documented your search strategy, and then click Search

Search Strategy Step 6

7. Once your results are combined, you can change/filter your results. 

  • My first recommendation is to sort results by Best Match rather than by date. The best results will then come up to the top
  • My second recommendation is to filter results on the left side of the page. You can filter results by the following:
    • Date
    • Article availability (I don't recommend this option)
    • Study Type
    • Species 
    • Language (Important)
    • Sex
    • Subject 
    • Journal
    • Age