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Medical Ethics

Medical ethics databases

Finding medical ethics information is not significantly different to finding clinical or scientific information - the principles of selecting appropriate search terms and critically selecting material apply, however there are sources in the areas of philosophy, sociology and psychology that you may wish to consult in addition to traditional medical databases such as MEDLINE. You may also find that news sources help to provide case examples and current opinion.

Bioethics: Health and biomedicine

NLM Bioethics Information Sources
Searches PubMed, Medline Plus and other sources from the National Library of Medicine and the US National Institute of Health for ethical information. Licensing and Resource Information.

Medline Complete via Ebscohost
The Medline database contains much information on bioethics in addition to clinical content, and is an excellent place to begin to search for articles on medical ethics.

CINAHL Complete
Covering nursing and allied health, CINAHL also contains information which addresses ethical issues across health disciplines.

The premier database for psychological information, published by the American Psychological Association. It contains over 3 million records, with journal coverage back to the 1800s. This will be useful for your mental health topics.

Informit Databases
Collection of Australian databases, including the Health Collection, indigenous and public affairs information.

Covers life sciences, health, physical sciences and social sciences. Scopus is updated daily and indexes over 15,000 peer-reviewed journals as well as quality web pages, with links to full text. Licensing and Resource Information.

Bioethics: Philosophy and sociology

Philosophers Index
Index to philosophy journal articles and books, book chapters such as contributions to an anthology, and book reviews.

Find a range of social sciences related resources, including childhood, ethnic studies, and gender studies, published by SAGE. Licensing and Resource Information

JSTOR Complete
A multidisciplinary collection of journals, including philosophical and sociological titles.

Legal resources

AustLii (Australian Legal Index)
Australian legislation and court decisions.

LexisNexis AU
Provides access to the CaseBase case citator, Halsbury’s Laws of Australia, reported and unreported judgments, and full text journal articles from selected journals and other resources subscribed to by Deakin University.

Westlaw AU
Provides access to FirstPoint, The Laws of Australia, Online Commentaries, Thomson legal journals, the Alert24 Current Awareness service and Commonwealth & Federal Law Reports.

Searching with precision: using subject headings in database searching

Sometimes, it can be really difficult to put your finger on a useful search term.

Subject headings (like MeSH in Medline or CINAHL Headings in CINAHL) can be really useful in these instances.

They're a little like #tags in social media, but are consistent - the same term is used across a database for a particular concept.

They are often very specific terms, and they avoid the need to consider synonyms and alternative spellings in your search terms, because they're used consistently to index records across the whole database.

Using MeSH [MEdical Subject Headings] (or equivalent subject heading list) for precise searching

A search on a subject heading will retrieve all records in the database indexed with this term, regardless of the terms used in the article - it can be a much more thorough, yet focused search than a keyword or natural language search.  Use the 'search history' to build your search, concept by concept, then combine the terms as relevant.

View this video for tips on searching using MeSH in Medline/ CINAHL headings in CINAHL. Note: in our version, access MeSH by clicking on 'MeSH 2014' in the blue bar at the top of the screen in Medline.  In CINAHL, this will be CINAHL Headings, and in psycINFO, it will be the Thesaurus.  They all work similarly.

Recommended journals

Not sure where to start? Have a browse through some of these selected journals to get a sense of what bioethical articles are like. Use the databases for more targeted searching.

American Journal of Bioethics
Scholarly open commentary addressing bioethical questions.  Authors from a variety of disciplines.

Journal for the discussion of bioethical questions in an ethical, legal or policy context, or theoretical examinations.

BMC Medical Ethics
Open access journal which examines the ethics of biomedical research and clinical practice.

Focus on Health Professional Education (Australian)
Official journal of the Australian and New Zealand Health Professional Educators.  Multidisciplinary, but topics include professional issues.

Hastings Center Report
Includes ethical, legal, social issues in medicine.

International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics

IRB (Published by the Hastings Center)

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

Journal of Clinical Ethics

Journal of Law and Medicine (Australian)
Australian journal, covers the legal aspect of medicine. Includes bioethical content.

Journal of Medical Ethics

Kennedy Institute for Bioethics Journal

Monash Bioethics Review

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

Virtual Mentor: American Medical Association Journal of Ethics

More medical ethics article collections

Here are some collections of articles on bioethics topics.

Medical Journal of Australia: Ethics
A list of articles on ethics in MJA. Licensing and Resource Information.

Southern Cross Bioethics Institute
Most articles are written by staff and associates of the SCBI and include good debating examples. Licensing and Resource information.

BMJ (British Medical Journal): Topic Collections
Selection of ethics articles. Licensing and Resource Information.

JAMA Topics Collections: Ethics
Scroll down to Medical Practice to find ethics topics. Licensing and Resource Information.

Canadian Medical Association Journal: Collections
Scroll down to the Non Clinical section to find ethics topics. Licensing and Resource Information.