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Pharmacy eResources: Graduate Orientation

Starting points

Documents from Orientation


Does a personalized telephone follow-up by a pharmacist assist people who have missed refilling their prescriptions in taking diabetes medicines by resolving medication adherence challenges?


Elements Search Terms
P = Patient, problem, population Diabetes, missed refill
I = Intervention Phone call from pharmacist
C = Comparison None
O = Outcome(s) Medication adherence

Consider synonyms to broaden your search.

Diabetes, missed refill Phone call Pharmacist

Missed refill

Medication adherence

Medication compliance

Patient compliance

Do we need diabetes?  Would you be interested in any chronic disease?


Text message*


Cell phone*

Mobile phone*






OVID tips

Truncation and Wildcards

You can use the truncation symbol (*) as a substitute for any string of zero or more characters in your search term. For example, the search migrat* retrieves any record containing "migrated," "migration," "migratory," "migratory-species," etc.

You can use the wildcard symbol (?) as a substitute for one character or none. For example, the search m*donald retrieves records containing "McDonald" or "MacDonald".

The truncation and wildcard symbols can be used anywhere in your search term, except as the first character.

Model for Graduate Level Searching

1. Search subject indexes  - Use more than one.
2. Identify reviews - General reviews, systematic reviews, scoping reviews, etc.
3. Search for ancestors - Look at the references cited in the paper.
4. Search for descendants - Use Scopus or Web of Science to see who has cited the article.
5. Identify key documents - Use Scopus or Web of Science to see the most cited papers.
6. Current awareness - Set up alerts in different databases or use JournalsTOCs.
Linda G. Ackerson. “Basing reference service on scientific communication: toward a more effective model for science graduate students” (1996) Reference Quarterly, 36: 248-257.

To find databases for different topics use the Subjects A-Z list.

Medline vs Embase

Medline Embase
North American emphasis. Created by National Library of Medicine in U.S. About 5,600 journals. European (Asian) Emphasis.  Created by Elsevier, a publisher in the Netherlands. About 8,300 journals
Different interfaces: e.g. OVID, PubMed Indexes more drug journals than Medline and has more drug indexing terms.
  Good coverage of alternative medicine

You need to search each database separately because the controlled vocabulary can be very different from one to the other.

E.g. A search for drug-induced liver injury -

  • In Medline, the MeSH heading is Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury
  • In Embase, the subject heading is Toxic Hepatitis


More information about the differences:

Demo Case

Characteristics: 55+ year old female patient, postmenopausal. She was assessed for the presence of osteoporosis. Decision made to begin a therapeutic regimen of a bisphosphonate to prevent onset of osteoporosis. Patient is reluctant to take the medication because a friend of hers was given a drug for her osteoporosis and her jaw became very sore and some of her teeth became loose.

What do we need to know?

  • Medication history of patient? i.e. is she taking any corticosteroids, etc.
  • Risk of jaw osteonecrosis for patients on bisphosphonates? Other adverse effects?
  • Length of therapy?

Topic -> question

  • For a post-menopausal patient taking bisphosphonates for osteoporosis prevention, what is the risk of jaw necrosis?
  • What is the recommended length of therapy of bisphosphonates for osteoporosis prevention?

PICO Model


Search terms

P= Patient, problem, population

Female, post-menopausal, at risk of osteoporosis

I = Intervention


C= Comparison


O= Outcome(s)

Osteoporosis prevention, assess/evaluate the. risk of jaw necrosis

 Things to consider before searching information resources:

List synonyms for: conditions, drugs, etc.

  • Bisphophonates :  Alendronate, Risedronate, Itidronate
  • Jaw necrosis : Osteonecrosis, bone necrosis, osteonecrosis of the jaw/mandible

Think about:

  • What are you using the information for? Patient education, treatment guidelines/policies, clinical education/instruction
  • How you want to combine your search terms
  • Terminology: Natural vs. controlled language terms (i.e. keyword or MeSH or EMTREE)
  • Ways you can apply limits to your search results, etc. (pub year, language, type of study)

Challenging Search Concepts


Community Based Research and Ethics of Research with People who Use Illicit Drugs.

A possible search strategy.  Needs work.  All keywords because there are no acceptable MeSH.

CBR or CBPR or Community-Based Research* or Community-based adj2 research* or Cooperative behav* or Community adj2 research* or Participatory adj2 research* or Collaborative research* or Community-engaged research* or Action research* or Action Science or Community Development* or Community Organi* or Community Partner* or Community Particip* or  Community-led research or Community-led or User-led adj2 research or User-led or Community Collaborat* or Collaborative inquiry or Community Involve* or Involving Communit* or Community Empower* or Empowering Communit* or Community driven or Community-driven or consumer involve* or involving consumer or community action or Community-action