MEDLINE from the National Library
of Medicine (NLM)
Other Interfaces to MEDLINE
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
Journals on the Web
Health Information on the Web
This page is based on an appendix from Katcher BS. MEDLINE:
a guide to effective searching in PubMed and other interfaces.
2nd ed. San Francisco: Ashbury Press; 2006.
Subject Headings (MeSH)
Deliberate and careful use of Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)--the
National Library of Medicine's controlled vocabulary for health-related
concepts--is a major contributor to complete and precise MEDLINE
An excellent publicly available resource for using MeSH is the
Database. A link to this MeSH Database can be found on the
search screen. The MeSH Database home page includes links to a
variety of tutorials, including a multi-part
tutorial about MeSH.
Use the MeSH
Database to determine what concepts from this controlled vocabulary
best describe your search topic. PubMed search strategies can
be constructed from within this database.
When you find an interesting article in PubMed,
use the Citation display to see the MeSH terms that were used
to index it. Each of these MeSH terms (some of them with subheadings,
some of them as Major MeSH) will appear as a hyperlink. You can
use these links to learn more about these MeSH. You can also use
them as the basis for a new search (selected MeSH terms will be
searched exactly as they were applied to the citation, with subheadings,
etc). You may see additional Entrez database search links options
for some terms. If there are substances in the Citation display,
they may include links to PubChem
Other MeSH resources from the National Library of Medicine include
what might be called a Medical Subject
Headings Home Page, with links to a number of other
MeSH-related resources, including a Fact
Sheet with detailed information about MeSH and a MeSH
Browser. For most users, the MeSH
Database will be more useful, but the MeSH browser allows
you to see entries three ways: in standard view, in a special
concept view, and in a more detailed expanded concept view (try
it out, or see the explanation
in the NLM Technical Bulletin).
The pharmacologic action category of MeSH requires a little study.
See pages 61-63 from my book (linked
here as a PDF).
The National Library of Medicine's Unified
Medical Language System (UMLS) links other controlled vocabularies
to MeSH. Among these are RxNorm
(standard names for clinical drugs, which can be searched with
a downloadable browser called RxNav),
CT (the College of American Pathologists' Systematized Nomenclature
of Medicine--Clinical Terms), and more than 100 other source vocabularies.
PubMed and the Entrez MeSH Database use the Unified Medical Language
System to link entry terms to MeSH.