Skip to Main Content
NWACC Library

Research Hacked: Health & Medical Topics

Best bets for researching health and medical topics.

Health and medical topics

Get Started

Do you find yourself struggling to sift through endless search results for health and medical information? Say "No!" to that frustration.

This guide explains the differences between "consumer health information" and information geared to healthcare providers and scholars and links to your best bets for finding authoritative information for both audiences.

Pick Your Search Tools

Consumer Health Information

  • Aimed at the general public
  • Provides basic health information, wellness tips, and advice on how to manage minor illnesses
  • Written in easy to understand and accessible everyday language

Clinical Information & Scholarly Research

  • Targeted towards healthcare professionals and researchers
  • Provides in-depth information on diseases, medical conditions, and treatments
  • Uses medical jargon and technical language
  • Presents statistical data and research findings

Consumer or Clinical/Scholarly

Power Search Tools

Select Your Search Strategies

Exact Phrase

Add Quotation Marks to search for an exact phrase or words in a specific or EXACT order. An exact phrase will return more accurate results because it snaps all of the words together, turning it into a phrase that must be found exactly in that order.

Example: chronic bronchitis vs. "chronic bronchitis"

3 Magic Words - AND, OR, NOT

Venn diagram illustrating AND OR NOT searches


Apply filters to limit your search results. Because they limit your results, filters might also be called limiters. The most common and helpful filters to limit your results are:

  • Date: Limit to the past 5 years, or a specific date range
  • Source Type: Limit to academic/scholarly sources or any other type, such as news or ebooks
  • Peer Review: Limit to scholarly sources that have been peer reviewed


Create a list of keywords associated with your topic.

What else could it be called (synonyms)? What describes it specifically (hyponyms)? What is it related to broadly (hypernyms)?

Example: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of lung diseases that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Topics can be narrowed or broadened depending on the use of search terms.

General: COPD

Narrower: emphysema

Broader: lung disease

Dive Deeper