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Searching PubMed Using MeSH Search Tags

Subheadings [SH]

  • A list of subheadings can be found in PubMed's Help.
  • Definitions for the subheadings (also called qualifiers) can be found on the MeSH Web site.
  • MeSH specialists and indexers determine which subheadings may be used in combination with each MeSH heading.   These combinations may change over time.
  • For searching, attach subheadings to MeSH headings using the format: MeSH heading/subheading.  
  • Two-letter abbreviations for subheadings or the full subheading name may be used.

Examples:

thromboembolism/pc [mh]
thromboembolism/prevention and control [mh]
toes/in [majr]
toes/injuries [majr]

Only one subheading may be attached to a MeSH heading at a time.   To attach multiple subheadings, combine each MeSH/subheading combination with the OR Boolean operator or use the MeSH Database, which allows multiple subheadings to be selected.

Example:

To search for citations where the main topics are about the prevention and control or diagnosis of thromboembolism, enter:

thromboembolism/pc [majr] OR thromboembolism/di [majr]

For a MeSH/subheading combination, PubMed always explodes the MeSH term and also searches the subheading and its grouping if there is one.   You cannot explode a MeSH heading and not also explode the attached subheading.

Example:

polysaccharides/ae

Retrieves citations indexed with any of the polysaccharides with any of these subheadings:   

ae (adverse effects)
po (poisoning)
to (toxicity)

Note:   polysaccharides/ae [mh:noexp] turns off both the MeSH heading explosion and the subheading explosion.

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