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Online Clinical Library 2: Practice Exercises

Practice Search 1

Practice Search #1

  Database:   Pubmed or PubMed Clinical Queries

  Practice:  Find studies regarding the effectiveness of physical therapy for low back pain.

Framing the Search: 1-2-3:​

Search terms to use in your search are: 

1)   Disease/condition:

low back pain

2)   Intervention

physical therapy

3)   Outcome


Enter the terms you have into the PubMed search box.

To narrow your results down, think about what type of article will give you the best evidence.  In this case, look for a randomized controlled trial or perhaps a systematic review.  PubMed's filters for these are a little hidden under the Article Types.


Start with just the systematic reviews first.  These types of articles are often a collection of randomized controlled trials.  Using this one filter, you can cut the results list from over 5,000 to just over 500 articles.

Next, if you prefer a more relevant list than in a date order, change the display to Best Match.

Practice Search 2

Practice Search #2

  Database: National Guideline Clearinghouse

  Practice search:   Find a guideline or consensus statement regarding diagnosis and management of recurrent urinary tract infection. 

Search Terms to use are:

  recurrent urinary tract infection diagnosis management

What about using AND - don't I need one of those?  Since it is an assumption in nearly all search engines, AND is not needed unless you need special control of how terms are combined.

What did you find?

If you had more information (age, sex, organization, ect.), then the advanced page has some great options (see below).

You should get a result set of 59 items.  Even though the link to the advanced search page isn't obvious, now that you know it is there, don't forget to use it.  If you find two different guidelines and want to see them side-by-side, use the check box and the Compare Guidelines button.

Here are just some of the options available on the advanced search page.

Now, if I decided to go with the adult population, applying the age filters for adult filter (there are several categories and one can check all that apply) applied, the results are a bit more specific to that population.

Practice Search 3

Practice Search #3  --  Drug Information


    Database: Pick one from the public Online Clinical Library page -

    Practice search:   Your patient brought in a couple of pills that really worked on her low back pain but she doesn’t know the name.  Can you identify the pill for her?  The pill is white, has the imprint M359 and is oval.

Resource(s) used:

ePocrates has a pill identifier, but if not immediately available to you, try PillBox from the National Library of Medicine

Search Terms used:

Imprint:   M359

Shape:  Oval

Color:  White


Results:  -- Only one came up for this.

Success?  Yes/No, and if not, why do you think that happened?

Not all drug resources have a pill identification capability, so be sure to use one that offers that feature.  

Practice 4

Practice Search #4  --  Google Scholar

    Database: Pick one from the public Online Clinical Library page -

    Practice search:   Find research studies regarding predictors that estimate mortality risk from hip fracture.

Resource(s) used:

Google Scholar

Search Terms used:

pedictors mortality risk from hip fracture

It might look something like:

Lots & lots of results with this search; however, an easy trick is to target a word or two that when in the title helps identify very pertinent articles.  (FYI, this trick is possible in PubMed too.)  To do this in Google Scholar, enter intitle: before that word.  

There are much fewer results and the concept of predictors is in the title. 

Full -text tips:  The makes me think the article might be freely available in PubMed Central.  Also, check the All 12 versions to see if it might be in an academic repository from a university or in Research Gate.  For example:


Or, skip a couple of steps by installing Unpaywall.  It helps you get the full text faster.

Success?  Yes/No, and if not, why do you think that happened?


Practice 5

Practice Search #5 --  Patient Education

    Database:   Medlineplus (

    Practice search:   The consulting cardiologist has recommended angioplasty for your patient. The patient is actively engaged and has many questions and would like to read up on this. What does Medlineplus have on this procedure for the patient?  Probably the easiest of the searches.

Search Terms to use are:



What did you find?

Even with just one term, MedlinePlus has a variety of resources from textual info, links to other organization info, to video presentations.