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Finding Survey Instruments and Questionnaires: MEDLINE

MEDLINE and Behavioral Instruments

MEDLINE is the commercial version of PubMed, the world's largest free, publicly accessible database of biomedical literature.

Almost every database has some references to behavioral instruments.

In a database the size of MEDLINE (20 million plus) it would seem  reasonable to anticipate finding a considerable number. 

MEDLINE does not disappoint in this regard. An anecdotal abstracts search yielded almost 965,000 references to behavioral instruments.  

Like most of the databases UT Tyler Library subscribes, MEDLINE does not provide specific field indexing for behavioral instruments in its records. 

Normally, the most effective workaround for this problem is a nested OR search of relevant instrument Subject terms in the database's Subject Headings field.

However, this is not an effective solution in MEDLINE.  

The best strategy in this database is to perform a nested "OR" search of relevant instrument keywords in the Abstract field. 

Search Using Abstracts (field) Nested "OR" Strategy

To nested "OR" Abstract-search MEDLINE for instruments,

1) Enter your topic search terms in the first search box

2) In the next search box, enter the following search strategy: "Survey* OR Questionnaire* OR Scale* OR Inventor*"

3) In the adjacent drop down menu (to the strategy you just entered) scroll down and select (click to highlight) AB Abstract.

4) Click the Search button to initiate the search.

Locating Instruments Information in the Record

Unlike CINAHL Complete and PsycINFO MedLine provides no searchable index fields for behavioral instruments. So you will not find an itemized list of data gathering instruments in a MedLine bibliographic record.

Your best bet for locating instrument references in a MedLine record is the Abstract field. MedLine abstracts typically provide a detailed precis of the article.

Where instruments were used in data collection, the instruments are usually expressly mentioned by title in the method(s) section of the abstract.  

The picture above is taken from the abstract of a MedLine record. In this case the Method section of the Abstract identifies three instruments used to gather the data for this study:

1) Clinical Interview Schedule (CIS-R)

2) General Health Questionnaire (GHQ)

3) Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D)

If a record of interest fails to stipulate the instrument used in data collection, you will need to consult the full text of the article itself, specifically the methods section of its abstract.