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Guide to searching PubMed

What is MeSH?

MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) is the National Library of Medicine's controlled vocabulary thesaurus, used for indexing articles for the MEDLINE®/PubMED® database.

Using MeSH allows you to find articles that are ABOUT that particular term, not just mentioning it.  Also, there are many, many synonyms, or different terms that may be used in medicine (for example: stroke, CVA, apoplexy, brain attack, cerebral accident, cerebrovascular accident); using a MeSH term pulls in all articles on that term, no matter what synonym was used by the author.

If you can search using MeSH entry terms instead of keyword searching you can focus your search and find more relevant citations. 

How to Use MeSH

Use the MeSH Browser, an online vocabulary look-up aid, to find MeSH terms in PubMed


For instance, if you want to search cancer of the jaw, finding the MeSH term will help you narrow down your results.  The actual MeSH term is "Jaw Neoplasms" and it is further subdivided into additional categories.  Your term may fall under MULTIPLE categories, as in the example below.


You can also use additional subheadings or quantifiers to group together those citations about a particular aspect of a subject.


Use MeSH