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PT 7327: Research in Physical Therapy I: DATABASE QUICK FACTS!

This course guide was created for Professor Denise Gobert's PT 7327 (Research I) class.


Quick facts about specific databases used in Physical Therapy research.

MEDLINE Complete

  • U.S. National Library Medicine’s bibliographic database
  • Millions of journal articles, including randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews, in the life sciences with a focus on biomedicine
  • Searching: 
    • Boolean: AND, OR, NOT
    • Phrase Searching
    • Truncation
  • MeSH Thesaurus for subject terms

Screenshot of Advanced Search in MEDLINE Complete




  • Access through library databases (will have Check for full text @ TX State option for articles)
  • Can also access the public version online – PubMed public access (will not have the option to check for full text at TX State)
  • Narrow results to specific types of Evidence-Based Research (e.g. clinical trial, meta-analysis, randomized controlled trial, systematic review)
  • Article Record:
    • MeSH terms for article listed at bottom of page.
    • Includes Similar articles
      • Scroll down to bottom of article record to see list
    • Includes “Cited by” articles that have cited the article
      • Scroll down to bottom of article record to see list
  • Searching:
    • Don’t use Boolean operator AND (database assumes the terms are connected by AND) or punctuation
      • If used, they disable PubMed’s automatic term mapping feature which maps keyword searches to MeSH terms.

Basic search in the database PubMed for stroke treadmill walk



Cochrane Library

  • Collection of evidence-based medicine databases, including but not limited to:
  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) – top resource for systematic reviews
  • Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials –randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials
  • Systematic reviews mainly focus on interventions
  • Searching:
    • On search interface, click on Advanced Search
    • Use Boolean (AND, OR, NOT), phrase searching, truncation
    • After typing in search terms, if you click “Send to search manager” the database will list the search and number of results
    • Look up MeSH terms by click the “Medical terms (MeSH) tab and searching for term.
    • Limit search results (Content type, publication date, etc…) by clicking on “Search limits.”

Screenshot of Advanced Search in database Cochrane Library for stroke or cerebral vascular accident and treadmill and walk



  • Provided by the University of Sydney
  • Open Access database – freely available on the Internet
  • Contains randomized trials, systematic reviews, and clinical practice guidelines specific to physical therapy
    • main focus is interventions
  • Searching:
    • Simple Search:  allows phrase searching and truncation;  No Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT)
    • Advanced Search:  Combination of search boxes and dropdowns
    • Results list cannot be filtered or limited

Screenshot of Simple Search in the database PEDro for stroke treadmill walk*