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Search Filters for Various Databases: PubMed

This resource has search filters for different study types organized by interface and database. Make sure you choose the correct one! For example, you can't use the Ovid Medline interface to search PubMed!


To use the filter, run your search in PubMed and then copy and paste the text from the search.  Add it to the last line of your search strategy.

If you are trying to locate prior systematic reviews: If you don't find anything when you use the SR filter, consider removing a concept from your search strategy, i.e. make it broader.  In the search example to the right, combinations of concepts are used to identify potential SRs as well as clinical trials studies. The rationale for doing it like is that authors don't always describe in their titles or abstracts exactly what they've done so we have to sometimes broaden the search a bit to ensure nothing is missed.

  • Case-control studies (revised 1/10/2014)
    “Case-Control Studies”[Mesh:noexp] OR "retrospective studies"[mesh:noexp] OR “Control Groups”[Mesh:noexp] OR (case[TIAB] AND control[TIAB]) OR (cases[TIAB] AND controls[TIAB]) OR (cases[TIAB] AND controlled[TIAB]) OR (case[TIAB] AND comparison*[TIAB]) OR (cases[TIAB] AND comparison*[TIAB]) OR “control group”[TIAB] OR “control groups”[TIAB]
  • Cohort studies (revised 1/10/2014)
    cohort studies[mesh:noexp] OR longitudinal studies[mesh:noexp] OR follow-up studies[mesh:noexp] OR prospective studies[mesh:noexp] OR retrospective studies[mesh:noexp] OR cohort[TIAB] OR longitudinal[TIAB] OR prospective[TIAB] OR retrospective[TIAB]
  • Cross sectional with prevalence studies (revised 4/26/2016)
    Cross-Sectional Studies[Mesh:noexp] OR cross-sectional[TIAB] OR Prevalence[mesh:noexp] OR prevalence[tiab] OR transversal study[tiab]
    • Many authors do not indicate that their study is a cross-sectional in either the title or abstract, nor are the articles marked with the appropriate MeSH terms. This search will locate only those that have been identified appropriately by the author.
  • Incidence studies (revised 4/26/2016)
    Incidence[mesh:noexp] OR incidence[tiab]
  • Clinical trials (10/21/2015)
    "Clinical Trial" [PT:NoExp] OR "clinical trial, phase i"[pt] OR "clinical trial, phase ii"[pt] OR "clinical trial, phase iii"[pt] OR "clinical trial, phase iv"[pt] OR "controlled clinical trial"[pt] OR "multicenter study"[pt] OR "randomized controlled trial"[pt] OR "Clinical Trials as Topic"[mesh:noexp] OR "clinical trials, phase i as topic"[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR "clinical trials, phase ii as topic"[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR "clinical trials, phase iii as topic"[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR "clinical trials, phase iv as topic"[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR "controlled clinical trials as topic"[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR "randomized controlled trials as topic"[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR "early termination of clinical trials"[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR "multicenter studies as topic"[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR “Double-Blind Method”[Mesh] OR ((randomised[TIAB] OR randomized[TIAB]) AND (trial[TIAB] OR trials[tiab])) OR ((single[TIAB] OR double[TIAB] OR doubled[TIAB] OR triple[TIAB] OR tripled[TIAB] OR treble[TIAB] OR treble[TIAB]) AND (blind*[TIAB] OR mask*[TIAB])) OR ("4 arm"[tiab] OR "four arm"[tiab])
  • Epidemiological studies (general search, may catch additional case-controls or cohorts)
    “Epidemiologic Studies”[Mesh:noexp]
  • Qualitative studies/research (revised 1/10/2014)
     “interviews as topic”[Mesh:noexp] OR “focus groups”[Mesh:noexp] OR narration[Mesh:noexp] OR qualitative research[Mesh:noexp] OR (((“semi-structured”[TIAB] OR semistructured[TIAB] OR unstructured[TIAB] OR structured[TIAB] OR informal[TIAB] OR “in-depth”[TIAB] OR indepth[TIAB] OR “face-to-face”[TIAB] OR guide[TIAB] OR guides[TIAB]) AND (interview*[TIAB] OR discussion*[TIAB] OR questionnaire*[TIAB])) OR (“focus group”[TIAB] OR “focus groups”[TIAB] OR qualitative[TIAB] OR ethnograph*[TIAB] OR fieldwork[TIAB] OR “field work”[TIAB] OR “key informant”[TIAB]))
  • Systematic Reviews (revised 9/15/2014)
    (systematic*[tiab] AND (bibliographic*[TIAB] OR literature[tiab] OR review[tiab] OR reviewed[tiab] OR reviews[tiab])) OR  (comprehensive*[TIAB] AND (bibliographic*[TIAB] OR literature[tiab])) OR “cochrane database syst rev”[Journal] OR "Evidence report/technology assessment (Summary)"[journal] OR "Evidence report/technology assessment"[journal] OR  "integrative literature review"[tiab]  OR"integrative research review"[tiab] OR  "integrative review"[tiab] OR  “research synthesis”[tiab] OR “research integration”[tiab] OR cinahl[tiab] OR embase[tiab] OR medline[tiab] OR psyclit[tiab] OR (psycinfo[tiab] NOT “psycinfo database”[tiab]) OR pubmed[tiab] OR scopus[tiab] OR “web of science”[tiab] OR “data synthesis”[tiab] OR meta-analys*[tiab] OR meta-analyz*[tiab] OR meta-analyt*[tiab] OR metaanalys*[tiab] OR metaanalyz*[tiab] OR metaanalyt*[tiab] OR “meta-analysis as topic”[MeSH:noexp] OR Meta-Analysis[ptyp] OR ((review[tiab] AND (rationale[tiab] OR evidence[tiab])) AND review[pt])
    • Just meta-analyses (1/4/2014)
      “meta-analysis as topic”[MeSH:noexp] OR Meta-Analysis[ptyp] OR metaanaly*[tiab] OR meta-analy*[tiab]
  • Program evaluation (revised 6/17/2016)
    "evaluation studies"[pt] OR "evaluation studies as topic"[mesh:noexp] OR "program evaluation"[mesh:noexp] OR "validation studies as topic"[mesh:noexp] OR (pre-[tiab] AND post-[tiab]) OR (pretest[tiab] AND posttest[tiab]) OR (program*[tiab] AND (evaluat*[tiab] OR effectiveness[tiab])) OR intervention[tiab]
  • Consensus statements/guidelines (12/2/2015)
    (clinical[tiab] AND pathway[tiab]) OR (clinical[tiab] AND pathways[tiab]) OR (practice[tiab] AND parameter[tiab]) OR (practice[tiab] AND parameters[tiab]) OR algorithms[mesh:noexp] OR care pathway[tiab] OR care pathways[tiab] OR clinical protocols[mesh:noexp] OR Consensus[mesh:noexp] or consensus development conference[pt:noexp] OR "Consensus Development Conference, NIH"[pt:noexp] OR "Consensus Development Conferences as Topic"[Mesh:noexp] OR "Consensus Development Conferences, NIH as Topic"[Mesh:NoExp] OR critical pathway[mesh:noexp] OR guidance[tiab] OR guideline*[ti] OR guidelines as topic[mesh:noexp] or practice guidelines as topic[mesh:noexp] or Health Planning Guidelines[mesh:noexp] OR practice guideline[mesh:noexp]
  • Vaccines (not specified for which disease; 12/4/2012)
    "vaccines"[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR "viral vaccines"[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR "immunotherapy"[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR ("vaccination"[MeSH Terms] OR "immunization"[MeSH Terms]) OR "immunization programs"[MeSH Terms] OR vaccinate[tiab] OR vaccinated[tiab] OR vaccination[tiab] OR vaccinations[tiab] OR vaccine[tiab] OR vaccines[tiab] OR immunisation[tiab] OR immunisations[tiab] OR immunise[tiab] OR immunised[tiab] OR immunises[tiab] or immunising[tiab] OR immunization[tiab] OR immunizations[tiab] OR immunize[tiab] OR immunized[tiab] OR  immunizes[tiab] OR immunizing[tiab]
  • Limit to United States studies (9/15/2016)
    Run your search as usual
    (#last-line-number AND (north america[mesh:noexp] OR united states[mesh])) OR (#last-line-number NOT (africa[mesh] OR asia[mesh] OR australia[mesh] OR canada[mesh] OR europe[mesh] OR south america[mesh]))
  • Limit to humans (9/15/2016)
    Run your search as usual
    Don't use the Humans filter in PubMed; it limits to only those articles with Humans as a MeSH term and will miss the newest articles.
    (#last-line-number AND humans[mesh:noexp])) OR (#last-line-number NOT animals[mesh:noexp]
  • Breast cancer (1/10/2014)
    "Breast Neoplasms"[Mesh:NoExp] OR "Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast"[Mesh:NoExp] OR "Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome"[Mesh:NoExp] OR "Inflammatory Breast Neoplasms"[Mesh:NoExp] OR "Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms"[Mesh:NoExp] OR (("breast"[mesh] OR "breast diseases"[mesh:noexp]) AND ("Neoplasms"[mesh:noexp] OR "Adenocarcinoma"[mesh:noexp] OR "Carcinoma"[mesh:noexp])) OR brca[tiab] OR (breast[tiab] AND (adenocarcinoma*[tiab] OR cancer*[tiab] OR carcinoma*[tiab] OR metasta*[tiab] OR neoplasm*[tiab] OR tumor[tiab] OR tumors[tiab] OR tumour[tiab] OR tumours[tiab]))