Searching PubMed using the Bioethics Subset

Bioethics Subset

The bioethics subset was created by the National Library of Medicine and the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University to enable searchers to limit clinical queries to discussions of bioethics. The bioethics subset is most effective when it is used to limit a precise subject or clinical issue. The bioethics subset less useful when applied to a broad concept such as Public Health.

Key Search tip:

To find the bioethical issues associated with a clinical topic, add  “AND bioethics[sb]” to any PubMed search query.

Example: health literacy AND bioethics[sb]


PubMed is a free resource developed and maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), at the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), located at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). PubMed holds over 24 million citations for biomedical literature, covering portions of the life sciences, behavioral sciences, chemical sciences, and bioengineering.

The bioethics subset filter will automatically be applied to your search query in the above form.

About PubMed

The PubMed database  is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. PubMed (FAQs) contains over 24 million citations for biomedical and bioethics literature.

Responsibility for Content: U. S. National Library of Medicine.
Focus: Life sciences with a concentration on biomedicine and health; also contains records for over 30 core bioethics journals.
Date Range: MEDLINE (Index Medicus) records: 1946–present; digitized records for clinical journals such as British Medical Journal and Medico-Chirurgical Transactions: 1810–1945.
Languages: Afrikaans to Vietnamese (for current literature over 40 languages).
Types of materials covered: Scholarly journal articles.
Free: Yes.
Download to citation manager: EndNote; RefWorks; ProCite
Saved search/email updates: Yes.

Special features:

Data alerts:
It takes over a year for some bioethics journals to be indexed, and several bioethics journals are not indexed at all.  Automated indexing can assign inappropriate bioethics terms to clinical articles.

Still seeking materials? Check out these insider search tips for the growing body of collaborative research databases in bioethics put together by our reference team.