If a database search returns too many results to be useful, there are a few methods you could try for narrowing the search.
For many healthcare related questions, you will be primarily interested in the most recent information, so it is common to apply filters to only show results from the last 5 or 10 years.
If your patient population has a particular age designation, many of the health sciences databases allow you to apply a filter for the age group that was studied in the article
Many databases allow you to limit a search to only peer-reviewed articles, or articles that were published in scholarly journals.
(For more information about how to determine if an article is peer-reviewed, see "Limiting to 'Peer Reviewed' Articles" below)
In addition to having a filter for 'peer reviewed articles', CINAHL has a filter that allows you to limit to only 'Research Articles', which are articles that report research study or examination of subject matter that uses investigational or experimental techniques (i.e. includes data collection, subject selection, methodology and discussion of results)
Some databases allow you to filter by publication type or study methodology (e.g., case studies, editorials, news articles, as well as higher levels of evidence such as clinical trials, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses). Limiting by publication type is one way to ensure that the research retrieved was based on a more rigorous methodology and thus reflects a higher level of evidence.
PubMed and CINAHL have filters for "Clinical Queries" - pre-formulated search strategies ("hedges") that can be applied to your search to retrieve only clinically sound studies.
"Full text" or "full text available," limits may appear and you should avoid using these! NYU subscribes to full text in many ways and from multiple vendors and packages. Look for the NYU full text links.
If an initial search retrieves too many results, it may be necessary to integrate an additional concept, using the Boolean operator AND. For example, if you are search on a PICO question, you may consider integrating the O (outcome of interest) into the search strategy.
|Search Query:||Number of Results Returned:|
|type II diabetes AND telehealth||556|
|type II diabetes AND telehealth AND blood glucose||195|
Subject headings are often hierarchical, with broader headings encompassing more specific terms. For instance, while a search with the MeSH term "Diabetes Mellitus" may be too broad, you could try a narrower term like "Diabetes, Gestational".
Some databases, like CINAHL and PubMed, allow you to append sub-headings to the subject terms, allowing for a narrower search. For instance, if you were interested in the use of insulin, but only in the context of treating diabetes, you could apply the sub-heading "therapeutic use" : "Insulin / therapeutic use"
"Peer-reviewed" or "refereed" journals are those that subject content to a critical review by other experts in the field prior to accepting a manuscript for publication. Limiting your literature search to the peer-reviewed journals ensures a higher level of scholarship and research methodology.
Magazines, trade journals, and newspapers tend to be "non-peer-reviewed," meaning perhaps just the editor or someone who is not an expert in the field has reviewed the content before publishing.
Some article databases (not all) will have a filter (or "Limit") available for "peer-reviewed." Look for this feature in Proquest Central and CINAHL.
See this tutorial for more information about Peer Review in the Health Sciences.