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Public Health

Guide to selected resources in Public Health.

Search Filters

Search Filters

Some databases have pre-formulated search filters that are useful for retrieving relevant materials. While results are not necessarily comprehensive, they often provide a good point of departure for developing your own search strategies.

InterTASC ISSG Search Filter Resource
A list of references describing filters to identify qualitative research MEDLINE (Ovid and PubMed), CINAHL, EMBASE, and PsycINFO. From Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York and National Institute for Health Research, UK.

Search Strategies

Search Strategies 

  • Use the following keywords to identify qualitative research. These keywprds will search the titles, abstracts and keywords of records held in the databases. Use quotations to search as a phrase:
"action research"
"cluster sample"
"constant comparative method"
"content analysis"
"discourse analysis"
"ethnological research"
"field stud*"
"focus group*"
"grounded theor*"
"life experience*"
"lived experience*"
"observational method"
"purposive sample"
"thematic analysis"
  • Use controlled vocabulary

Databases use controlled vocabulary to categorize each record stored. The terms they use are known as thesaurus terms or subject headingsThe thesaurus terms vary for each database according to their indexing system.

For example, qualitative research is indexed in PubMed as "Qualitative Research" or "Nursing Methodology Research", while in CINAHL their subject heading "Qualitative Studies" is complemented by more detailed terms, including "Phenomenological Research" and "Grounded Theory".

Tutorials for searching subject headings

PubMed uses Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)       CINAHL uses CINAHL Headings
  • Use qualitative research filters

Qualitative research filters are pre-formulated search strategies that have been constructed by librarians to help you retrieve articles in databases that deal with qualitative research. You can use the filter and then combine the results with your subject.


PubMed Topic Specific Queries




  1. Go to
  2. Under PubMed Tools, click Topic Specific Queries
  3. In the left column, click Health Services Research (HSR) Queries
  4. Enter your search topic
  5. Under Category select Qualitative Research 



  1. Go to PsychINFO database in Database Finder.
  2. Enter your topic in the search box.
  3. In right column, under Methodoly, MATHEMATICAL MODEL, select Qualitative study.
  4. Under Refine Search section on the left, limit further your search under Methodology drop down menu.

Modify your search strategy accordingly by using thesaurus terms, such as qualitative research, grounded theory, interviews, observation methods, etc.


Qualitative Research Books - Theory