MEDLINE is a database of more than 17 million bibliographic citations and author abstracts in the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, health care systems, and preclinical sciences. It covers more than 5400 journals published in the United States and in over 70 foreign countries. About 90% of the records are from English-language sources or have English abstracts.
MEDLINE is one of the premier databases for locating research based professional citations in the nursing, medical, and allied health fields. MEDLINE uses a controlled vocabulary (thesaurus) called MeSH (medical subject headings). Controlled vocabulary means that indexers, who are usually subject experts, have read the articles and assigned specific terms from the thesarus to identify the article. The idea behind MeSH is that all articles about the same concept are assigned the same standarized subject heading.
For example, one author may use the words diabetes type 1, another may use insulin dependent diabetes and a third may use diaabetes mellitus, sudden-onset. However, all articles will be indexed under Diabetes Mellitus, Insulin-Dependent, the MeSH term.
Example of an EBSCO MEDLINE citation
Development of a dynamic model to guide health disparities research
Rew L; Hoke MM: Horner SD: Walker L
The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing. email@example.com
Nursing Outlook 2009 May-Jun: Vol. 57 (3), ppl 132-42
Journal article; Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural; Review
Subject Headings - MeSH Terms
The * means a major subject heading versus a minor one.
Looking at these subject headings gives you an idea of what the article is about and can help you choose other terms to use for searching.
See the National Library of Medicine's MeSH headings Browser for information about Medical Subject headings and how to use them.