Search Filters

Why use a search filter?

Search filters (often called 'hedges') are designed to improve retrieval of clinically relevant research from health science databases. Using search filters for a particular topic or methodology may improve your search sensitivity or decrease the number of irrelevant results.

Filter your search by topic

Lowitja Institute Search (LIt search) - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

This search tool provides easy access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health literature on the PubMed database. Look at all literature or choose one of 27 topic searches.

CareSearch - palliative care focus

Subject-based search filters for use in the PubMed database. These filters provide the best available evidence in palliative care related topics.

Flinders Filters

Standardised, systematic subject-based searches with known levels of performance. Topics include opthamology, primary health care, stroke, contraception, etc.

Integrated Care Search

Allows you to efficiently retrieve integrated care literature via PubMed. 

NSQHS Standards Literature Searches

Provides targeted searches for references about National Standards topics.

PubMed Special Queries

Directory of topic-specific searches including bioethics, cancer, toxicology and more. 

Filter your search by study type

ISSG (InterTASC Information Specialists' Sub Group)

Search filters grouped by study design (eg. epidemiological studies) or focus (eg. quality of life).

McMaster University Health Information Research Unit

Methodological search filters covering therapy, diagnosis, prognosis, etiology, economics, reviews, and qualitative studies. The McMaster filters are also embedded in the Ovid databases at Austin Health.

PubMed Clinical Queries

A search interface to find citations in the areas of clinical study categories, systematic reviews and medical genetics

SIGN (Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network)

SIGN has devised search filters for: systematic reviews; RCTs; observational, diagnostic & economic studies; and patient issues.

Using the 'Humans' limit

When the 'humans' limit is added to a MEDLINE or Embase search it can exclude records not yet indexed or relevant records which have not had the 'human' index term applied. To ensure a thorough search, the following is recommended by Cochrane:


  • Construct your search in MEDLINE
  • On the next search line type the phrase: exp animals/ NOT
  • Combine your last two lines with NOT.

For example:

Line 1      (enter your subject)
Line 2      (enter your subject)
Line 3      1 OR 2
Line 4      exp animals/ NOT humans/
Line 5      3 NOT 4


If you are using the Embase database, the syntax required is:

NOT ((exp animal/ or nonhuman/) NOT exp human/)

Acknowledgement flags

Austin Health acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.
We celebrate, value and include people of all backgrounds, genders, sexualities, cultures, bodies and abilities.