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Physical Therapy: Databases

Health Science Center Libraries


Why Use Bibliographic Databases

Literature searching is a methodical process of looking for published or unpublished evidence on a chosen topic using bibliographic databases. Within the health sciences, this evidence usually comes in the form of information sources like books, journal articles, guidelines, clinical trials data, or conference proceedings. Good literature searches help you find relevant, up to date, quality information to help you identify current research gaps, potential research methods, and current theories and findings.

Bibliographic databases are collections of references and abstracts on a specific subject or subjects. The references are usually drawn from resources like academic journals, books, and reports from professional associations that are reputable, clearly dated, and have already been reviewed for quality and accuracy.

Accessing UF Database Subscriptions

Remember, for remote access to all UF electronic resources use the VPN software or the Proxy Server.

Some databases, journals and resources are free for anyone to access and some are only accessible to UF affiliates through the libraries' subscription. To access subscription resources while off campus, you must be logged in to the VPN or the proxy service.

Access to electronic resources should be seamless from any UF networked computer. Note that some computers in Shands may require remote access.

Eligibility for access: UF students/faculty/staff members with current, valid UF ID/Gator1 Card.

Image by Christina Smith from Pixabay 

Important Databases for Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation

The Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature provides indexing of the top nursing and allied health literature available including nursing journals and publications from the National League for Nursing and the American Nurses Association. Literature covers a wide range of topics including nursing, biomedicine, health sciences librarianship, alternative/complementary medicine, consumer health and 17 allied health disciplines.

Web of Science contains over 21,100 peer-reviewed, high-quality scholarly journals published worldwide (including Open Access journals) in over 250 sciences, social sciences, and arts & humanities disciplines. Conference proceedings and book data are also available.


PubMed comprises more than 30 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books.

SPORTDiscus is the leading bibliographic database for sports and sports medicine research. It includes millions of records from leading sports medicine journals, books, dissertations and more. Subjects covered include nutrition, physical therapy, occupational health, exercise physiology and kinesiology.

PsycINFO provides access to international literature in psychology and related disciplines. Topic coverage includes Applied psychology, Communication systems, Developmental psychology, Educational psychology, Experimental human and animal psychology, Personality, Psychological and physical disorders, Physiological psychology and neuroscience, Sports psychology 

PEDro is the Physiotherapy Evidence Database, a free database of over 44,000 randomised trials, systematic reviews and clinical practice guidelines in physiotherapy. For each trial, review or guideline, PEDro provides the citation details, the abstract and a link to the full text, where possible. All trials on PEDro are independently assessed for quality. These quality ratings are used to quickly guide users to trials that are more likely to be valid and to contain sufficient information to guide clinical practice. PEDro is produced by the Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, School of Public Health at the University of Sydney and is hosted by Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA).

The Biological Science Collection offers abstracts and citations to a wide range of research in biomedicine, biotechnology, zoology and ecology and some aspects of agriculture and veterinary science. Supporting over two dozen areas of expertise, this database provides access to literature from over 6000 serials, as well as conference proceedings, technical reports, monographs and selected books and patents. Topic coverage includes Bioengineering, Biotechnology, Cell biology, Chemoreception​, Genetics, Immunology and vaccines, Microbiology, Molecular biology, Mycology, Neurosciences.

REHABDATA, produced by the National Rehabilitation Information Center, is the leading literature database on disability and rehabilitation. The database describes over 80,000 documents covering physical, mental, and psychiatric disabilities, independent living, vocational rehabilitation, special education, assistive technology, law, employment, and other issues as they relate to people with disabilities. 

Embase is a highly versatile, multipurpose and up-to-date biomedical research database. It covers the most important international biomedical literature from 1947 to the present day and all articles are indexed in depth using Elsevier's Life Science thesaurus Embase Indexing and Emtree.

The Cochrane Library is a collection of databases that contain different types of high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making. 

Learning Literature Searching Skills

To learn how to search different databases either attend some of the HSCL's workshops (click here for the schedule and to reserve your spot) or contact the PT Liaison Librarian Jane Morgan-Daniel to arrange a time for a one-to-one or group appointment.

Precision & Recall

Precision = the fraction of retrieved items that are relevant

  • (How much of what you retrieved is good?)
  • # relevant articles divided by # total articles

Recall = fraction of relevant items retrieved out of all relevant items available in the database

  • (How much of the good stuff did you actually get. Unfortunately, the higher the recall, the more 'junk' you end up getting also.)
  •  # relevant articles retrieved divided by # total relevant articles available

When searching, you're looking for a reasonable balance between precision (narrowing your search to get ONLY relevant articles) and recall (widening it to get ALL relevant articles, which usually means a lot more junk to weed through as well).

A common question is "How many articles should be retrieved by a good search?" There's no exact answer to that. Somewhere between 100-300 is a reasonable number of abstracts to weed through, but it depends greatly on your question, how comprehensive you want to be, and how much literature there truly is on your topic.

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