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Public Health

This guide contains resources from the University Library to help with your study and support your research in Public Health.

Epidemiology Resources

Epidemiology is the study and analysis of the distribution and determinants of health and disease conditions in defined populations. It is the cornerstone of public health, and shapes policy decisions and evidence-based practice by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventive healthcare. Here are some suggested search terms to use to locate materials on this topic:

  • Communicable Diseases
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Epidemiology
  • Population Health
  • Public Health

Using MeSH for epidemiology research:

MeSH (Medical Subject Headings): provides a consistent way to retrieve information where authors use different terminology for the same concepts. You will find material on epidemiology and epidemiologic methods in PubMed, but you will need to be aware of the thesaurus (MeSH) terms used to search for the various topics. Below are some examples of the language PubMed uses to describe the concepts in this field.

Exploding MeSH:

When you search for subjects using MeSH terms from the PubMed thesaurus you will also have the option of appending subheadings to narrow the focus of your search. To search for articles on the epidemiology of specific disease you can simply add the subheading "epidemiology" to the term.

Try using the search structure below to find articles on the epidemiology of lung cancer in relation to smoking.

Lung Neoplasms/Epidemiology (MeSH Term) Epidemiology of tumors or cancer of the lung.


Smoking (MeSH term) Inhaling and exhaling the smoke of tobacco or something similar to tobacco.

PubMed Search Strategy:

lung neoplasms/ep[majr] AND smoking[majr] AND English[lang]

This search strategy uses the subheading epidemiology "ep" associated with lung cancer. The section in the square brackets includes majr - which focuses the search on articles where the subject is a major issue in the article. The search is then limited to articles which include smoking, also as a major subject, and which are in English, or which have English abstracts.

PubMed's default setting is to "explode" all terms, and so this search will include the subcategories of lung neoplasms listed below.

Lung Neoplasms
Carcinoma, Bronchogenic
Coin Lesion, Pulmonary
Pancoast's Syndrome
Pulmonary Blastoma

and the subcategory of Smoking - Marijuana Smoking.