As you are searching for evidence on a particular topic, or instructing a student to do so, a particularly useful tool is PubMed’s Clinical Queries. This section of the PubMed database uses built-in search filters developed by PubMed scholars to limit result retrieval to specific clinical study types and scopes. There are three main retrieval categories in Clinical Queries - clinical studies, systematic reviews, and medical genetics. This column will focus on clinical studies and systematic reviews.

First, to get to this part of the PubMed database click on the link for Clinical Queries on the opening page of PubMed. It will be in the middle column under PubMed Tools. The link will take you to a simple search page. After entering your search terms in the search box and executing the search, the results screen will look like Figure 1.

figure 1 Clinical Queries

Notice you are then presented with drop-down menu options for the Clinical Studies category.

These options include therapy, diagnosis, etiology, prognosis, and clinical prediction guides. You can also select a narrow (specific) or a broad (sensitive) search to further limit your results. After making those selections, simply rerun the search. Clinical Queries lists the first five results, but there is a link (See All) which will display the entire list.

There are no further limiting filters for the systematic review category. Your results list will contain systematic reviews, meta-analyses, reviews of clinical trials, consensus development conferences, and guidelines. You need to screen the results yourself to find the type of review you desire.

While you can accomplish approximately the same type of search using the regular PubMed database by using limits for clinical trial, review, etc., and adding terms such as diagnosis or therapy to the terms in the search box, the results will not be quite as precise as those from Clinical Queries. First trimester DC students are introduced to this portion of the PubMed database as an easier and more time efficient alternative to use rather than the regular PubMed database when looking for certain types of evidence-based articles.