Before we begin our online search, let's learn how to create a search strategy for finding relevant information using the PICO method. Begin a good online search with a background investigation. Sources for a background investigation include medical encyclopedias such as GALE GVRL (online), WebMD, Dorlands Medical Encyclopedia (library reference), Tabor's Medical Encyclopedia (library reference), Mayo Clinic website or other Textbooks (library stacks) and similar types of authoritative medical information about your subject.
Once you have general background information from an authoritative source (legitimate source) as opposed to Google, you fill in a P-I-C-O chart with possible keyword terms. This is preliminary to using Medical Subject Headings in an online search.
The P-I-C-O Libguide will show you how to start the process. This is what a P-I-C-O chart looks like. Ask your librarian or instructor if you need help getting started.
A good online database search begins with planning and organizing your information.
View the example PICO worksheet below which is used to formulate a question relating to children with a temperature presenting to Emergency Centers. A blank PICO worksheet is available for you to practice how to formulate your question. ( Purdue University)
Take a quick look at the PICOT Libguide to see how it's done.
After the Background Search, you are ready to begin the serious work of searching MESH. MESH stands for Medical Subject Heading. The best place to investigate your keywords for proper medical terminology is the MESH on Demand. Using the keywords from your P-I-C-O chart, you will check each term in the MESH BROWSER to see if there is a broader or narrower term you might use. For instance, in addition to the word baby, you might use the term infant. So, we type infant into the MESH ON DEMAND page. Then we click on the word infant and it returns a MESH tree for infant. Clicking on the tree number, we see words infant and newborn. MESH ON DEMAND shows us additional terms we may not have considered.
In the nursing profession, terminology must be exact. It is essential that you use the correct term when searching a database..
For example, if you type in the search term Latino, this is what you will see.
The preferred term for Latino is Hispanic. You will get more relevant results if you use that term in your searching. Now that you have selected your terms, you can perform your search. Go back to the search screen and type in your terms.
Once you have:
The computer will search the database and return results based on the criteria you selected. Your search has retrieved two results. The icon shows it is an academic journal.
The title of the article is titled: Racial Disparities in intensity of Care at the End-of-Life: Are Trauma Patients the Same as the Rest? The Author is Cooper Z, the journal title is Journal of Health Care for the Poor & Underserved, date May2012; 23(2): 857-874. 18p Volume 23, Issue 2; pages 857 - 874. This information is your bibliographic citation. Access this information for your APA FORMAT bibliography by clicking on CITE.
This article is not available in PDF Full Text . You will need to request it through NURSING INTERLIBRARY LOAN.
The second article is available in PDF FULL TEXT. When you have a choice, select PDF full text instead of HTML Full Text.
It is almost impossible to do a perfect search; If more than half of your articles are relevant, you have searched correctly. It is not unusual to retrieve too many articles, too few, or not exactly what you need. When that happens, you will need to refine your search strategy. Search engines use algorithms. You must apply professional knowledge of the subject and relevancy.
Improve your search strategy by following these steps.
Refine your results by using the FILTERS menu on the left side of your results page. Be sure to click on update after you have made your changes.