UTS Library

92568: Evidence in Health Care: Databases

In this guide:

What are databases?

Library databases are specialised search tools that can help you find journal articles, clinical trials, systematic reviews and more. UTS Library subscribes to over 300 databases covering every faculty and research area at UTS. You can find the right database for your research question using the Find Databases tool. 

Medline (OVID)

Medline (Ovid) is one of the largest biomedical databases available through UTS Library. It's mostly used to find journal articles written by researchers from around the world, and includes many different publication types such as randomised controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews, observational studies and more.

The video below explains how to run a PICO search in Medline.  

MeSH Terms vs Keywords

Most databases search using keywords, and find articles that can contain your search terms anywhere in the title, abstract, full text, or reference list. Keyword searches are easy and convenient, but will often find articles that are not relevant to your topic. 

A more efficient way of searching is using a 'controlled vocabulary', or thesaurus of terms. These terms classify and group together articles according to what they're about. Using a controlled vocabulary ensures that you won't get as many irrelevant results.

Many medical databases like Medline and CINAHL use a controlled vocabulary called MeSH (Medical Subject Headings). MeSH terms efficiently help you find relevany articles, and work best when researching a well established topic, like diseases and populations. They don't work as well for newer, multidisciplinary topics. 

The table below explains the difference between keywords and MeSH terms, and what each is best for.

MeSH termsKeywords
Established concepts (e.g. Diabetes, Heart Disease)Newer concepts (e.g. eHealth)
Core biomedical concepts (e.g. diseases, drugs, chemicals, anatomy)Multidisciplinary topics (e.g. psychology, humanities topics)
Traditional aspects of medicine (e.g. Surgery, Immunology)New or modern aspects of medicine (e.g. rehabilitative science, public health)
 Recent articles that haven't been assigned MeSH terms yet
 Articles that may have been given the wrong MeSH term

Table 1: MeSH vs Keywords (Sayre 2013, slide 20)

Sayre, F. 2013, Advanced Medline, PowerPoint, viewed 8 August 2016, <http://www.slideshare.net/fdsayre/advanced-medline-finalv4>.