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Occupational Therapy

occupational therapy

Qualitative Search in Pubmed

Option 1: Health Services Research Queries

The narrow qualitative query looks for the words qualitative and themes in titles and abstracts of articles. A modification of this strategy is linked below. It includes the MeSH term Qualitative Research, which was added to the MeSH vocabulary in 2003.

Option 2: Use Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) terms in your search, such as:

  • Qualitative Research
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Grounded Theory
  • Anecdotes as Topic
  • Narration
  • Video Recording
  • Tape Recording
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Focus Groups
  • Personal Narratives as Topic
  • Observational Study as Topic

NOTE: There may be inconsistent indexing in PubMed. For example, grounded theory articles are not always indexed for qualitative research. You may want to TextWord search for additional terms: grounded theory, action research, ethnograph* etc.

Additional MeSH terms that may be applicable to your topic include: Attitude of Health Personnel; Attitude to Death; Attitude to Health; or Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice.

Option 3: Limit your search to specific Publication Types, such as:

  • Observational Study
  • Interview 
  • Personal Narratives 

Option 4: Copy and past this search in PubMed and add other concepts to the search.

qualitative research [MeSH] OR qualitative[tiab] OR themes[tiab]

Qualitative Search in CINAHL

Option 1: Limit your search results to Clinical Queries.

  • Check the research box Refine/Limit your search with Clinical Queries. Select within the following options. The search strategies behind the limiter values are listed below:
    • Qualitative - High Sensitivity:((MH “study design+” not MM “study design+”) or MH “attitude” or (MH “interviews+” not MM “interviews+”))
    • Qualitative - High Specificity:((MH “grounded theory” not MM “grounded theory”) or (TI thematic analysis or AB thematic analysis or MW thematic analysis))
    • Qualitative - Best Balance:((TI interview or AB interview) or (MH “audiorecording” not MM “audiorecording”) or (TI qualitative stud* or AB qualitative stud*))
  • Note: MH= MeSH Heading  MM=Major Concepts

Option 2: Use CINAHL Headings

  • From the advanced CINAHL search screen, click on CINAHL Headings.
  • Enter qualitative studies in the browse box.
  • Select it from the list of suggested search terms and click SEARCH DATABASE.
  • While viewing those search results, enter your topic/keywords in the second search box, and click SEARCH.
  • Explode the Qualitative Studies subject heading.  Explode will include these CINAHL Headings: Action Research, Ethnographic Research, Ethnological Research, Ethnonursing Research, Grounded Theory, Naturalistic Inquiry, Phenomenological Research.

Option 3: Experiment with related CINAHL subject headings such as:

  • Focus Groups
  • Narratives
  • Interviews (explode Interviews to include Semi-Structured Interview, Structured Interview, Unstructured Interview)
  • Descriptive Research
  • Descriptive Statistics
  • Audiorecording
  • Videorecording, Diaries
  • Observational Methods (explode to include Non-Participant Observation, Participant Observation, Structured Categories, Unstructured Categories)
  • Projective Techniques (explodes to include Pictorial Methods, Verbal Projective Techniques), Vignettes, etc.

Option 4: Publication Types

Refine/Limit the set to Publication Types that are qualitative by definition, for example Anecdote, Interview, etc.

Search Terms for Qualitative Research

  • Case studies 
  • Interview 
  • Narrative 
  • Phenomenological 
  • Qualitative
  • ethnograph*
  • phenomenol*
  • ethnonurs*
  • grounded theor*
  • purposive sample
  • semiotics
  • lived experience*
  • life experiences
  • action research
  • observational method
  • content analysis
  • thematic analysis
  • field stud*
  • theoretical sample
  • discourse analysis
  • focus group*
  • ethnological research
  • ethnomethodolog*

Quantitative Search in Pubmed

Limit by Article Type

After conducting a search, apply Article Type limits by clicking on the Additional Filters link at the bottom of the filters list.

There are many different types of quantitative studies, some are listed below.

  • Clinical Trials (All kinds)
  • Comparative Studies
  • Controlled Clinical Trials
  • Evaluation Study
  • Meta-analysis
  • Random Controlled Trial
  • Systemic Review
  • Twin Study
  • Validation Study 

After you choose the types you want, click Show.

The publication types show up in the Article Type field, select them again to filter out the types in which you are interested.

Quantitative Search in CINAHL

There are several options for search for Quantitative Studies in CINAHL

Option 1: Use MH Exact Subject Heading field options

  • Using the Advanced Search option, enter "quantitative stud*" in the first search box
  • Combine with keyword searches,  CINAHL Heading Searches or MESH searches. 

Option 2: Limit your search by Publication Type

Limit by types that are quantitative by definition, clinical trials and Randomized Control Trials, for example. Review the methods of the articles you find to ensure they are quantitative. Randomized Control trials are often quantitative or at least have some quantitative aspects, such as tables and charts, equations, and formulas.


Search terms for Quantitative Research

  • Correlation
  • Data 
  • Distribution 
  • Experiments 
  • Pre-test/post-test  
  • Randomized Controlled Trials 
  • Chi square
  • Pretest
  • Posttest
  • Quantitative
  • Reliability
  • Statistical
  • T-test
  • Time series
  • Validity
  • Variable
  • Variance
  • P values