Medicine, Nursing, and Other Health Fields

Articles and information about medicine, nursing, pharmacology, and other health fields, as well as JH medical libraries and institutions.


To see links to our full-text articles:

Go through the library website this URL, which includes "jhum"):

Get to PubMed in any of three ways:

  • On the MSEL home page:  Articles and Databases --> Databases --> "Find a specific database by name." (Or, use the second box after "Databases," which is "Find a database by subject," such as "Medicine" or "Public Health.")
  • On the Welch library page, click on PubMed (in the left column, under "Popular Resources")

NEW as of 2018: "Best Match" sorting uses a weighted term frequency algorithm to get more relevant results. Use this ONLY to get a few highly relevant articles, and not to see all of the articles about a topic.


You've gotten too many results -- how do you narrow your search?

In the column to the left of your results list, there are some choices, including

  • publication dates
  • species
  • article types

At the bottom of that left column, click Show Additional Filters -- this will let you choose other limits, including

  • languages (e.g., English)
  • subjects (e.g., bioethics)
  • ages (e.g., adult:19-44 years)

Once you build a search that you like, you can save it and run it again whenever you wish.

Here are the steps for how to do that.

Basically, you go to PubMed (make sure you're using the correct address) and click "Sign in to My NCBI," on the top right

  1. Do a search
  2. Click on "Create Alert" (on top, underneath the search box), and fill in your preferences (this is where you can schedule automatic searches and ask for notifications of the results)
  3. You can "manage" your saved searches with the link on the bottom right

After you run a search, you have a choice of "most recent" and "best match."

  • "Most recent" is a weighted algorithm of how many times a term appears in a record
  • "Best match" is that plus more than 150 other things that were taken from years of PubMed search logs
  • "Best match" gives better results

Here are some very useful pages for HELP and other things:

  • Use the Thesaurus (called MeSH, for Medical Subject Headings) -- This will provide more terms for your topic so that you get more results; e.g., Developing Countries, Neglected Diseases, Cost of Illness
    -- You can also use MeSH to add subheadings, such as "instrumentation," "mortality," "prevention and control," and "therapy"
  • Fact Sheets, Alphabetical or By Subject - These describe databases, tell the difference between PubMed and MEDLINE, and more
  • Fields - How to put your search words in the TITLE of the article, or to search by "last author," "place of publication," and more
  • Phrases - Put phrases in quotation marks, so that the words stay next to each other ("chicken pox")
  • Publication Types - On the left is "article types," such as "clinical trial, Phase IV." This link takes you to the definitions of all of those.
  • Textbooks - Online, searchable biomedical textbooks. For help, see "getting started," on the left.
  • Truncate - Save your time! Put an asterisk - * - at the end of your search word (for example,  transplant*   will get you "transplant," "transplants," "transplanting," and "transplantation")
  • Tutorials - PubMed offers lots of help. Try one of their tutorials.

Here is the easy way to get PubMed citations into Refworks.

1. When you have found an article that you like in PubMed, copy its title
2. Paste the title into Google Scholar
3. Click "Cite"

4. Click "RefWorks" (which is at the bottom)

5. Choose "new" RefWorks

MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) is PubMed's excellent thesaurus. (Here is a fact sheet about MeSH.)

MeSH headings will:

  • list all of the articles about a topic, even when your search words are not used in the title or abstract (including alternate spellings such as "paediatric" and "orthopaedic")
  • list all of the subcategories of your concept so that you can focus your search, such as those for "nutrition" (e.g., Nutrition Disorders, Nutritional Status, Nutrition Policy) or "cardiovascular" (e.g., Cardiovascular System; Cardiovascular Infections; Cardiovascular Surgical Procedures; Models, Cardiovascular)
  • catch all of the articles whose concepts have synonyms (e.g., the heading for "undernutrition" is "malnutrition")
  • tell you what kind of entity your concept is -- scroll down to see the "tree" structure that shows you the broader things that your concept is part of, and the concepts that are narrower than yours

MeSH gives definitions, which come from trustworthy sources and which you should cite if you use them. This page of the APA web site provides the following guidelines for citing a word from a dictionary, which is close enough to use for citing MeSH:

"Example (electronic version):
Heuristic. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary (11th ed.). Retrieved from

Therefore, a MeSH citation would look like this:

  • Prosthesis and Implants. (n.d.) In MeSH (Medical Subject Headings; National Center for Biotechnology Information). Retrieved from









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EMBASE is the world's other great database for biomedical topics. It includes articles, conference papers, and post-market surveillance reports, among other things.

  • It has greater coverage in some areas than PubMed, especially in the areas of pharmacology and toxicology
  • It has some specialized search features for medical devices, including "manufacturers," "comparisons," "economics,"

EMBASE also has content that PubMed does not have, so always search *both* databases.

Saving Searches -- To save your searches, you must register for a free username and password.

  • During the registration process, you will be asked to enter an "institutional key," which is Johns Hopkins University

To do a search, click on "Search" on the blue line at the top of the page, and pull down "Advanced Search":

Now you can do a comprehensive search with the limits that you want:

  • date -- the years during which articles were published
  • sources -- either EMBASE or MEDLINE (the *published* articles from PubMed, not those in press)
  • fields -- author, title, etc.; e.g., for articles with your search words in the article *Title*, add  :ti  to your search
  • quick limits -- limits such as "humans," "only in English" and a few others
  • EBM -- "evidence-based medicine"; choose "Cochrane review," "systematic review," "controlled clinical trial," "randomized trial," and/or "meta-analysis"
  • pub types -- for example, review articles, editorials, and a few more choices
  • languages -- choose from among lots of languages
  • gender -- male, female, or articles about both men and women
  • age -- choose from among given age ranges
  • animal -- "animal cell," "animal experiment," "animal model," and/or "animal tissue"

Your searches can also use:

  • AND -- Every article must include *all* search words (e.g., dog AND cat)
  • OR -- Articles must include at least one of the search words (dog OR cat OR bird). The articles do not need to have all of these words in them. 
  • NOT -- You do not want articles with that search word(s) in it (e.g., dog NOT cat)
  • NEAR/n – The words must be within some number of words of another word (e.g., e: symptom NEAR/5 headache gets articles with the word "symptom" within 1, 2, 3, or 4 words near "headache," no matter which comes first)
  • NEXT/n – Same thing as above, except the order *does* matter (e.g., symptom NEXT/5 headache will get articles with the word "symptom" *before* the word "headache," with 1, 2, 3, or 4 words between them)

There are two ways to focus on finding device information:

  1. Do an advanced search and then use the left column to choose *Device,* and narrow it down from there
    -- OR --
  2. Start with a "Device" search:

Device Fields includes

  • device manufacturers
  • device trade names

Device Subheadings includes

  • adverse device effect
  • device comparison
  • device economics
  • clinical trial


There are two ways to focus on finding drug information:

  1. SEARCH (word in the middle of the top of the page) --> Choose Advanced (word under the second blue line at the top of the page), then use the left column to choose *Drugs,* and narrow it down from there
  2. SEARCH --> Drug (word under second blue line at the top of the page)

Drug Fields includes

  • drug manufacturers
  • drug trade names

Drug Subheadings has 17 choices, including

  • adverse drug effect
  • drug analysis
  • drug dose
  • pharmacokinetics

Routes has many choices, including

  • buccal
  • inhalational
  • intramuscular
  • intravenous
  • intraspinal
  • oral
  • sublingual


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