Creating Provincial and Territorial Search Filters to Retrieve Studies Related to Canadian Indigenous Peoples from Ovid MEDLINE


  • Sandy Campbell
  • Marlene Dorgan
  • Lisa Tjosvold



Introduction: Performing systematic review searches related to Canadian Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis), particularly in areas of public health, is difficult because Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) terms for both Indigenous peoples and geography do not retrieve all relevant articles in Ovid MEDLINE. Text–word searching for Canadian Indigenous peoples presents challenges in the varieties of names, spellings, and languages. A series of Canadian Indigenous peoples filters were designed to retrieve larger numbers of relevant articles. Objectives: The objectives of this work were (i) to create first-generation search filters that retrieve studies from the Ovid MEDLINE database related to Canadian Indigenous peoples, (ii) to determine whether or not the filters retrieve more records than do searches using the MeSH headings alone, and (iii) to determine how many of the additional records are relevant. Methods: Key terms describing both Canadian Indigenous peoples and Canadian geography were identified using government, historical, and ethnographic publications. Name lists included current and historical names in multiple languages, as well as local and settlement names, and names of linguistic groups. Filters, employing both text–word and MeSH terms were created for each province and territory, excluding Prince Edward Island. Search results were reviewed for false recalls related to terms with multiple meanings and groups of people whose lands straddle provincial and territorial borders. Revised searches were refined with additional terminology that implies the presence of Indigenous peoples. Duplicate records were removed from both the MeSH searches and the filter searches. Results from the MeSH searches were then removed from the results of the filter searches. The remaining results were analyzed for relevance. Results: Twelve Ovid MEDLINE filters were created and the challenges involved in creating them were documented. The filters increased recall by 58 articles, 464% over MeSH searches alone. Of the additional articles retrieved, 28 (100%) met the criteria for relevance. Discussion: The lists of challenges identified in the filter creation will assist other searchers in developing similar filters. The filters allow searchers to retrieve substantially more articles than is currently possible with the MeSH terms alone.




How to Cite

Campbell, S., Dorgan, M., & Tjosvold, L. (2014). Creating Provincial and Territorial Search Filters to Retrieve Studies Related to Canadian Indigenous Peoples from Ovid MEDLINE. Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association / Journal De l’Association Des bibliothèques De La Santé Du Canada, 35(1), 5-10.



Research Articles