Comparison of Using a PubMed Comprehensive Search Approach vs. Clinical Queries

To compare the searching strategies, let's conduct a PubMed comprehensive search (See Figure 1) to answer Eric's question. This is the traditional or typical approach that individuals use if they are not familiar with the Clinical Queries feature. Beginning on the PubMed homepage, the MeSH term, Tobacco Use Cessation is typed into the search box resulting in the retrieval of 21,774 citations (Figure 25a). A disadvantage to conducting this type of search is that you have no idea as to what type of studies you have found, e.g., systematic reviews, RCTs, animal or laboratory studies, personal opinions, etc. In comparison, using a non-mesh term, Chewing Tobacco Cessation only results in 1,426 citations (Figure 25b.) as compared to using the MeSH term.

Figure 25a. Traditional PubMed Search for Tobacco Use Cessation.

Image of Traditional PubMed Search for Tobacco Use Cessation


Figure 25b. Traditional PubMed Search for Chewing Tobacco Cessation.

Image of Traditional PubMed Search for Chewing Tobacco Cessation

In this case, someone not familiar with the PubMed Limits feature would either spend considerable time reviewing the 21,774 titles and abstracts to determine which ones might be useful in answering the question, or more realistically, just look at the first 10 to 15 and hope that one answers the question. Fortunately, for those who are familiar with PubMed features, this process becomes easy to manage.

To narrow the search, add the search term smokeless tobacco using the AND Boolean operator. This limits the results to 1,044 citations (Figure 26a.) As previously illustrated, add the Practice Guidelines filter to Article Types so that you have the highest levels of evidence available to start with. This results in 1 Practice Guideline, published in 2004 (Figure 26b). Subsequently, re-run the search by clicking on “Clear all” to remove the Practice Guideline filter and then click on Meta-Analysis. This results in 15, a reasonable starting point to determine if relevant information has been found (Figure 26c.). One of the top citations is the Cochrane 2015 review listed, as it was when conducting the Clinical Queries search (Figure 19).

Figure 26a. Results of Limiting the 21,774 Citations for Tobacco Use Cessation AND Smokeless Tobacco to 1,044 Citations.
Image of Results of Limiting the 21,774 Citations for Tobacco Use Cessation AND Smokeless Tobacco to 1,044 Citations


Figure 26b. Results of Limiting the 1,044 Citations for Tobacco Use Cessation AND Smokeless Tobacco to 1 Practice Guideline.

Image of Results of Limiting the 1,044 Citations for Tobacco Use Cessation AND Smokeless Tobacco to 1 Practice Guideline

Figure 26c. Results of Limiting the 1,044 Citations for Tobacco Use Cessation AND Smokeless Tobacco to 15 Meta-Analysis.
Image of Results of Limiting the 1,044 Citations for Tobacco Use Cessation AND Smokeless Tobacco to 15 Meta-Analysis