Searching by subject headings and keywords for each identified search concept is the key to an effective search strategy in a database.
Question: In patients with lateral elbow pain (P), is surgery (I) effective in improving pain and function (O)?
|Patient / Population / or Problem (P)||Intervention (I)||Comparison / Control Intervention (C)||Outcome (O)|
|Concept A||Concept B||Concept C||Concept D|
Surgical procedures, operative
|N / A||Improving pain and function
Boolean Operators are used to combine and define the relationships between your search concepts and terms within each, and among search concepts. Common Boolean Operators include OR, AND, NOT:
The OR operator broadens your search results by retrieving records that contain either or both of your search terms
e.g. Tennis elbow OR Lateral elbow
The AND operator narrows the search results by retrieving records that contain both of your search terms.
E.g. Tennis elbow AND surgery
The NOT operator narrows the search results by eliminating a specific search term.
E.g. Surgery NOT Physical Therapy
Using our example above, we can now construct our search strategy using Boolean Operators:
(remember, you should scan the search results for the outcome(s) rather than including these terms as a search concept)