Searching databases is hard, or at least tedious, because of two reasons: 1) Authors use many different words to describe the same topic, and 2) Databases only find words exactly as you type them. This creates a lot of work for the searcher, who has to think of every variation and iteration of words used to describe their topic.
Some databases provide subject headings (aka controlled vocabulary) to resolve this problem. These special terms are programmed to include synonyms and sub-terms. For example, if you search for the subject heading "anxiety" in PubMed, all the specific types of social anxiety and phobias are automatically included in your search.
When searching PubMed, CINAHL, or PsycInfo, use the thesaurus to find the subject headings for your topics.
Because subject headings are imperfect, you must use a combination of subject headings and keywords to find all articles on your topic.
PubMed's subject headings are called MeSH, short for Medical Subject Headings. When using any thesaurus, look up one topic at a time.
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