Dental Health

A research guide for students enrolled in Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting degree programs at UMA Bangor.

Contact UMA Libraries


Library Chat
library homepage


What is MeSH?

us national library of medicine logo

Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®) are in the MEDLINE database

If you'd like to learn more about Medical Subject Headings, check out the MeSH tutorial form the National Library of Medicine.


PICO explained

PICO is a technique that uses four elements to formulate a good clinical question that returns relevant results in a database search. The technique helps clarify the question - the result is finding a better answer. Keyword brainstorming will help find synonyms used in the database (for example teenagers or adolescents or high school students).


P = patient, population, or problem

  • a specific age cohort (adults, older people, adolescents, infants)

  • a specific population (home-bound patients, hospitalized, nursing home patients)

  • a specific health cohort (COPD, healthy, systemic lupus erythematosus)

  • specific problem (hospital-acquired infection, fall injuries  in hospitalized patients, CPR methods)

I = intervention

  • What is the treatment or intervention is in question?  (medication, specific therapy, specific procedure)

C = comparison

  • What is an alternate treatment or intervention for the same treatment or intervention? (holistic medicine versus pharmaceuticals, heat therapy versus cold therapy, cat scan versus MRI)

0 = outcome

  • What do you want to accomplish? (symptom or pain management, better healing time, safest method, survival)

PICO in action

Here is an example of a PICO question and resulting search terms. 

In adults with systemic lupus erythematosus, will drugs manage pain symptoms more effectively than complementary or alternative medicine therapies?

- adults with systemic lupus erythematosus 

- drugs

- complementary and alternative medicine

- manage pain symptoms

Search terms:

P - systemic lupus erythematosus is listed as subject heading Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic in CINAHL

- drugs

- alternative medicine, complementary medicine (or be more specific: traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic, supplements, chiropractic, homeopathy, naturopathy, massage)

- pain management, pain control, pain therapy 

PICO Tutorial

Accessibility Statement
The University provides reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities upon request. Any person with a disability who needs accommodations for a workshop should contact UMA Libraries at to submit a request. Due to the lead-time needed to arrange certain accommodations, individuals should submit their request no later 1 week before the event.