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Veterinary - Research Databases: Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)

Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)

Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) are controlled subject vocabulary terms that create uniform, consistent subject indexing across biomedical literature.

All resources indexed in MEDLINE are assigned MeSH headings; there is a slight delay (generally 1-3 weeks) from the time citations are added to PubMed until those citations are indexed with MeSH terms. 

MeSH in basic search

Search details

Within a basic search, PubMed uses automatic term mapping to search subjects, journals, and authors. After retrieving your basic search results, click on the Advanced link under the search box. Any MeSH terms related to your search will appear in the History and Search Details section when the Details arrow is clicked.

Example: a basic search of feline infectious peritonitis returns the search query "feline infectious peritonitis"[MeSH Terms] OR ("feline"[All Fields] AND "infectious"[All Fields] AND "peritonitis"[All Fields]) OR "feline infectious peritonitis"[All Fields] in the History and Search Details area.



MeSH terms assigned to a citation

Find MeSH terms assigned to a resource by using the Page navigation links within an abstract or scrolling to the bottom of the abstract to the MeSH Terms section.

Show example MeSH terms within citation

If you click on a MeSH term within the abstract, you will be given the option to search the term in PubMed or the MeSH database, as well as to add the term to your existing search.

Shows search options for MeSH terms within citation

Searching for MeSH terms

1. To search for MeSH terms, click the MeSH Database link in the Explore column on the PubMed homepage.



2. In the MeSH search box, enter your search term. If more than one MeSH term is related to your search, the terms will be returned in a list that includes the MeSH term and a description of the term. Click the link for the term that best matches your search, if more than one result is returned. If no results are returned try your search again with a synonym of your term.

image shows mesh results


3. In the MeSH term pages, add the MeSH term to a search builder by clicking the Add to search builder link. If you wish to add any subheadings to the search, click the box next to the subheading(s), then click the Add to search builder link. When a MeSH term is searched in PubMed, any narrower terms related to the selected MeSH term will also be included in the PubMed search.

image shows location of add to search builder button and subheadings se

3. The MeSH hierarchy for the term is found at the bottom of the heading record. Click on any of the linked broader/narrower terms to see that term's record. Any in progress search builder search strings will follow to the new term's page.

image shows a mesh heirarchy example


4. After you have completed the MeSH search builder process, click Search PubMed to conduct the search.

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