Home>Domains-Harm/Etiology-Search Strategies

Search Strategies for Articles on Harm/Etiology

Basic Search Strategy

Quality Filters
-Quick Filter
Clinical Queries

Basic Search Strategy

To conduct a search:

1. Choose Ovid Medline (Advanced Search) or PubMed

2. Follow the instruction in step 1 below to search for your suggested source of harm(shown in red on the diagram).

3. Follow the instructions in step 2 below to search for the relevant disorder or outcome (shown in blue on the diagram)

4. Follow the instructions in step 3 to filter your results for good quality articles (shown in yellow on the digram)

5. Combine these searches using the Boolean operator "and". As you can see from the diagram, the result will be literature that combines your Disease/Disorder, the appropriate Intervention and a Quality Filter. The desired search results are represented in white on the diagram. harmboolean


The following are instructions for using OVID Medline:

Step 1. Searching the Suggested Source of Harm

arrowEnter terms best describing the source of harm.

arrowPossible subheadings (italic indicates most frequently used--for broadest coverage, select "all subheadings")

Adverse Effects (AE)
Mortality (MO) (not always an option)
Contraindications (CT)
Poisoning (PO)
Toxicity (TO)

Step 2. Searching for the Relevant Disorder/ Anticipated Outcome

arrowEnter terms best describing the disease or disorder/outcome.

arrowPossible subheadings (italic indicates most frequently used--for broadest coverage, select "all subheadings")

Abnormalities (AB)
Chemically Induced (CI)
Epidemiology (EP)
Etiology (ET)
Mortality (MO)
Transmission (TM)

Step 3. Combine Previous Searches with a Quality Filter

arrowCombine the first two search statements, using the boolean operator "and" and combine the final subject statement with the quick filter (hedge) below. You may also wish to filter your results to quality articles by using the Clincal Queries option in the additional limits section of Medline.

Quality Filters

1. Quick Filter for Harm/Etiology Articles

As a quick filter for good quality articles on Harm or Etiology, combine your subject search with the appropriate search strategy (depending on whether you are searching Ovid Medline or PubMed).

Ovid Medline:

case control studies/ or cohort studies/ or risk/


case-control studies [mh:noexp] OR cohort studies [mh:noexp]


2. Clinical Queries

Ovid Medline:

Found within the Additional Limits section, this specialized search function provides fast access to reliable clinical studies via 8 categories that can be added to a query.

These methodology filters allow searchers to quickly locate literature on:


clinical prediction guides
qualitative studies

Each category further utilizes an emphasis category (or search hedge):

  • Retrieves most of the relevant articles.
  • Less relevant articles will also be included.
  • Finds a greater total number of articles
  • Retrieves articles most relevant to your query.
  • A few less relevant articles may also be retrieved.
  • Limits the total number of articles found.




  • Combination of sensitivity and specificity


Found under Clinical Queries in the left hand menu.

This search finds citations that correspond to 5 specific clinical study categories:

clinical prediction guides

The search may be either broad and sensitive or narrow and specific. Please see PubMed's filter table for more details.