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Search Hedges- Emory University

The search hedges featured on this page were created by Informationists at the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library, Emory University.

What are Search Hedges?

Search hedges are a strategy used in information retrieval to account for uncertainty or variations in search terms. Creating a search hedge involves identifying synonyms, related terms, or alternate phrasings to ensure a researcher captures a wider range of relevant results. Search hedges enhance the effectiveness and uniformity of a search query by accommodating potential variations in how information is expressed.


The Hedge Development team consists of members of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library’s Systematic Review Service. The team identified a list of recurring concepts from previous systematic review projects and subgroups were established to develop first draft searches. The draft searches were presented to the Hedge Development team for comments, edits, and approval.

This online library research guide categorizes the topics by the closest Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) term. For example, the “Persons” heading contains the search hedges for “Elderly”, “Indigenous Persons”, and “Pregnant Persons”. Each page contains 2 tabs: one with the developed PubMed search hedge and a general keyword search. Notes field 1) shows the date of the most recent review by the team, 2) explains any significant conditions or omissions that may impact use of the hedge and 3) list additional optional or historical terms researchers should consider for their projects.