School of Medicine Resources

Using the "5 As" to Answer Clinical Questions

ACQUIRE Your Evidence - Doing the Literature Search

Tips for Searching MEDLINE Using PICOTTT

You have access to two versions of the MEDLINE Database to search - Ovid MEDLINE and PubMed, in addition to many other databases such as Web of Science from the Medical Student Portal Page.

PICO Question: In an adult hypertensive male (P), does a lower sodium diet (I) reduce hypertension (O)?

T for TIME = This question does not specify any "TIME Factor"

T for Type of Question = This is a "Therapy" question 

​T for Type of Study = A Systematic Review or Meta-Analysis of multiple Randomized Controlled Trials would be desirable, but we would also accept individual RCTs from our MEDLINE search

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Ovid MEDLINE Search Steps for this PICO Question

1.Search for HYPERTENSION
2. Maps to the Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) term = HYPERTENSION

3.You can apply "SUBHEADINGS" to your MeSH terms to get at the "TYPE OF QUESTION in your PICOTTT" as there are subheadings for diagnosis, etiology, therapy, prevention & control, and more.
4.This question is a "THERAPY" question, so I apply the "therapy" subheading to the HYPERTENSION MeSH term
5.Search for LOW SODIUM DIET
6.Maps to the Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) term = DIET,SODIUM-RESTRICTED
7.No need to apply a subheading to this MeSH term
8.Combine the two MeSH terms with an AND
9.As a last step, apply LIMITS

  • MALE
  • ENGLISH LANGUAGE
  • "PUBLICATION TYPES" - these will help you limit to the last of the Ts in PICOTTT - Type of Study
  • Many Publication Types are included as Limits. However, they do not include: Case-Control Studies and Cohort Studies - these two must be searches as MeSH terms and added to your other search terms during your search.
  • I would select "Randomized Controlled Trial" in this case as it is a strong study design for therapy questions
  • But there are many other study designs to select from, such as Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
     

 

 

 

 

 

 

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