PubMed4Hh app provides different access points for searching PubMed

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Purpose of App Review

  • To determine the usefulness of a PubMed searching app.

Introduction

There are several apps out there for searching the PubMed interface on your mobile device. Some of these apps are developed out of the private sector while others come from government agencies.

PubMed4Hh (PubMed for Handhelds) is developed by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and is freely available for download.

PubMed4Hh is a popular PubMed mobile resource, though some other resources do a better job of providing a fluid and more familiar interface for searching the database.

Check out the comprehensive evaluation of several PubMed apps for iOS, many of which are now available for Android. Interestingly, some of the free PubMed apps, like PubMed4Hh, offers a slick interface and design.

User Interface

PubMed4Hh’s interface is more of a directory than a functional system. It points users to one of four mobile websites for searching PubMed and NLM data.

The resources are as follows:

  • PICO Search
  • Consensus Abstracts
  • AskMEDLINE
  • BabelMeSH

PICO Search is a resource for finding references on a topic by posing a clinical question using the PICO format (Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome). Asking a question using these components yields a more precise list of results.

Consensus Abstracts points to a page with links to both the PICO site and the askMEDLINE site. I’m not sure why this exists since both PICO and askMEDLINE buttons are on the app home screen.

askMEDLINE allows users to search MEDLINE/PubMed content using free-text, natural language processing. This means there is no need for Boolean operators to perform an efficient search. askMEDLINE takes a Google-esque approach to searching.

BabelMeSH is an interface for searching PubMed using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) controlled vocabulary to yield more targeted search results on your topic. Using controlled terminologies is beneficial, especially when keyword searching is falling short or lacking in substantial retrieval.

PICO

consensus abstracts

askMEDLINE

babelmesh

Price

  • Free

Likes

  • Developed by the NLM which gives the app reputability and authority
  • App acts as a pointer to other resources that enhance or simplify the PubMed search process on a mobile device
  • Ability to download app versions of the four mobile websites available in the app
  • Intuitive descriptions of what each mobile website does and how it functions

Dislikes

  • Confusion with Consensus Abstracts resource

Conclusion

  • Free to download and useful in daily work for finding evidence-based, full-text articles
  • Clear understanding of what functions each resource/mobile website performs
  • Developed and maintained by the National Library of Medicine

iMedicalApps recommended?

  • Yes

Google Play Link

Rating: (1 to 5 stars) – 4.75

  1. User Interface – 5
  2. Multimedia usage – 4 (no need as this app serves to point users to other resources)
  3. Price – 5
  4. Real world applicability – 5

Phone used for review: Samsung Fascinate (Galaxy S phone)

Disclaimer:
This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.

Discussion ( 1 comment ) Post a Comment
  • Hi Antonio! Nice review. I had considered adding a PICO-formatted search to my PubMed search app, PubSavvy – but suspected that it was more complex than most users would need. Even those of us who use PubMed frequently often do searches hitting only one or two of the PICO (patient, intervention, comparison, outcome) concepts. So, we ended up leaving it with a simple boolean search with keyboard shortcuts, and a Refine section that automatically narrows the search by additional terms or limits, even in the iPad version where we had the real estate to put a PICO search. I’ll be curious to find out if NLM keeps track of what % of users complete a PICO search, and use the other options. We’ll have to look into BabelMeSH as well, for foreign language support. Thanks for the helpful info! ~Diana

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