Using MeSH for aged health research:
MeSH (Medical Subject Headings): provides a consistent way to retrieve information where authors use different terminology for the same concepts. To search PubMed effectively, you will need to be aware of the MeSH terms used to search for this group of people.
Sometimes you will find the age factor as part of the MeSH - for example Health Services for the Aged, while at others you will need to add the age category to the name of a health problem. One of PubMed's great advantages is its list of age groups which you can use when searching. You will find these listed in the Mesh Database.
Many topics in MeSH have hierarchies of more specific subcategories or related terms. The indentations in the lists reflect the structure of the hierarchy, and the + signs at the end of terms indicate that there is a further hierarchy of terms not displayed here. Any of these terms can be searched individually, or you can "explode" terms to search sections of the list. There are two narrower subheadings within the MeSH Aged. "Exploding" Aged will retrieve articles on aged generally, but will also search for the more specific categories of Aged, 80 and over, or Frail elderly.
Simple strategy to search for articles on prevention of falls in older people using only two MeSH:
You can run this basic MeSH search in PubMed as follows: "accidental falls"[mh] AND "aged"[mh]
A more developed PubMed search strategy:
"accidental falls/pc"[majr] AND "aged"[mh] NOT ("adult"[mh:noexp] OR "young adult"[mh] OR "middle age"[mh] OR "child"[mh] OR "adolescent"[mh]) AND English[lang]
1. This search strategy uses the headings accidental falls and aged. The section in the square brackets includes majr - which focuses the search on articles where the subject is a major issue in the article.
2. I've added a subheading to accidental falls - "pc" which stands for "prevention and control". Other subheadings I could have chosen are - economics, mortality, statistics and numerical data, or trends. Most MeSH terms have subheadings which can be applied to them, and this is the range of options available for accidental falls.
3. In this search I have chosen to exclude adults, middle age, children and adolescents.
NOT ("adult"[mh:noexp] OR "young adult"[mh] OR "middle age"[mh] OR "child"[mh] OR "adolescent"[mh])
This is because I want to find articles which deal only with the aged NOT articles which deal with children or adults too. PubMed's default setting is to "explode" all terms, and so I've had to specify that I don't want it to explode the term adult (as I would otherwise end up with a search which contradicted itself by including the category Aged, and then excluding it). The search is then limited to articles which are in English or which have English abstracts.
You can also limit searches by aged groups by performing a search and then applying age limit options from the "Limit" fields.