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Physical Therapy: PubMed

A guide for finding literature to support evidence-based practice in physical therapy.

Search PubMed

Find "Evidence" in PubMed

PubMed includes some specialized search tools to help you quickly find evidence-based literature. See the Evidence Based Practice page of our PubMed via LHL guide for a tour of these features.

  • Clinical Queries
  • Article Types search filter (to filter to Meta-analyses, Systematic Reviews, Randomized Control Trials, Practice Guidelines, etc.)


Sign up for a My NCBI account to:

  • Save searches and individual citations
  • Set up automatic search alerts that are sent by email
  • Save search results

Click the box below for a tutorial on saving searches:

Click box below for a tutorial on saving individual results to a collection:

PubMed for Mobile Devices

Check out our PubMed for Mobile Devices page on our "PubMed via LHL" guide

What is PubMed?

PubMed comprises more than 23 million citations to biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. It indexes mostly articles, but also some online books and covers the date range 1950s to present. You can access PubMed from this guide or the Lister Hill Library homepage. On the homepage, click the "PubMed via LHL" logo in the middle. You'll want to access PubMed through the library website while at UAB to gain access to licensed full-text. (Note: Once you graduate, you can access PubMed at In addition to the information on this guide, we also have a complete guide on PubMed via LHL.

What are Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)

PubMed indexes articles using a controlled vocabulary called Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®)

This means that a specific set of terms is assigned to describe each article. This provides consistency and uniformity so all articles about a certain subject will be retrieved, even if different terms for the concept are used in the article. One example where different terms are commonly used is myocardial infarction and heart attack. 

MeSH terms are arranged in a hierarchical manner and are updated annually.

Familiarity with this vocabulary will make you a better PubMed searcher. You can find MeSH terms and search PubMed with them using the MeSH Database.

Overview Tutorial: Build Better Searches Using MeSH

This 3-minute overview tutorial demonstrates several features of the MeSH Database that can be used to create a more targeted subject search.

In-Depth Tutorial #1

For a more in-depth review of identifying and searching with MeSH terms, view the following two tutorials. The first one is a 9-minute tutorial demonstrating how to find appropriate MeSH terms for a PubMed search. Specifically, the tutorial walks you through:

  1. Doing a keyword search and looking at Search Details to see how PubMed attempted to map your keywords to MeSH terms
  2. Pulling up a relevant article and looking at what MeSH Terms were assigned to that article
  3. Using the MeSH Database to look up keywords and seeing what MeSH Terms PubMed suggests

In your own searches, you will likely find yourself using a combination of these three approaches.

Note: Click the to Full Screen button on the bottom right  to expand the tutorial to full screen.

In-Depth Tutorial #2

This 10-minute tutorial demonstrates how to perform a subject search in PubMed using MeSH terms.

Note: Click the to Full Screen button on the bottom right  to expand the tutorial to full screen.

PubMed Search Tips

  • Use Advanced Search page to see your search history and rerun searches
  • Use MeSH and subheadings to focus search
  • Apply limits (age groups, publication type, etc.) to focus your search
  • View “Related citations” to expand your search
  • Consider “Clinical Queries"
  • Link to full text articles with Full Text@UAB Libraries button
  • Remember PubMed does not include everything
  • Ask a librarian if you get stuck!


Use PubMed's Clipboard feature to save results temporarily.

  • Run your search
  • Check the boxes next to the article you wish to move to the Clipboard
  • In top right corner of results page, click Send to > Clipboard

The Clipboard:

  • can collect up to 500 citations
  • will be lost after 8 hours of inactivity
  • can be emailed to yourself and/or another student by going to Send to  > E-mail
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