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Cochrane Library Guide: MeSH in Cochrane

Welcome to the Cochrane Library Research Guide! This guide will help students better use and understand Cochrane Library, to understand what is reliable evidence and other systematic reviews, clinical trials, and more.

What are MeSH Terms?

MeSH (Medical Subject Headings), the National Library of Medicine's controlled vocabulary thesaurus, consists of terms naming descriptors in a hierarchical structure that permits searching at various levels of specificity.

In other words, MeSH terms describe what a review is about and are used to label all reviews on a topic even if different authors use different words for the same concept (such as cancer vs. neoplasm vs. tumor).

Searching with MeSH Terms in Cochrane Library


  1. In the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, click on the "Medical Terms (MeSH)" link located in the search box.
  2. Enter a keyword to search for the corresponding MeSH term. A list of suggested terms will appear as you type.

  3. Enter any subheadings or qualifiers you want to use (click the text box to see the full list).
  4. Click "Lookup" to see the MeSH entry.
  5. Click "View Results" from the MeSH entry to see all Cochrane Library items that match the MeSH term.

Note: you can also search for MeSH terms from the Search Manager (also accesible from the search box).



MeSH in Cochrane: Video

Producing Cochrane Reviews