OTseeker - Occupational Therapy Systematic Evaluation of Evidence

Advanced Search Help.

OTseeker can be searched using a Basic Search or an Advanced Search. Each of these options can be accessed from any page on OTseeker.

Advanced Search

Using the Advanced Search

  1. To perform a search, either enter your search term/s by typing text into the text boxes and/or select from the drop-down menus of one of the search fields. You can use one or more of the search boxes to conduct a search. You do not need to enter search terms into each box.
  2. You can then combine these searches by selecting AND, OR, or NOT using the drop down boxes, or combine terms within the textboxes using AND, OR, or NOT, for the fields: “Any Field” or “Title/Abstract”.
  3. If you need additional rows, click the Plus (+) button. To delete a row, click the Minus (-) button
  4. Then press "Search"

    The field options include:

    Text box field options

    • Any field: (Searches any of the fields listed below except drop down options & author)
    • Title/Abstract (Searches the title of the article and the abstract of the article)
    • Title (Searches the title of the article)
    • Author Surname (Searches by the author surname you enter)
    • Journal Title (Searches the title of the journal)

    The fields also include options that have their own drop-down list to select from:

    • Year Published (Asks you to enter ‘From’ and ‘To’ dates)
    • Intervention (Provides another drop-down list of interventions relevant to occupational therapy that you can select from. More information about this option is provided below)
    • Diagnosis/Sub-discipline (Provides another drop-down list of diagnoses/sub-disciplines that you can select from. More information about this option is provided below)
    • Method (provides drop-down options of ‘Systematic review’ or ‘Randomised controlled trial’)
    • Internal Validity Score (This is for randomised controlled trials up to July 2013 only. Most of the randomised controlled trials in OTseeker (prior to July 2013) have been critically appraised using the PEDro scale (partitioned) for 8 internal validity criteria and 2 statistical reporting criteria. Details about this rating can be found here. This search field provides drop-down options to search by the number of PEDro scale internal validity items (0-8) that have been met.
    • Statistical Reporting Score (This is for randomised controlled trials up to 2013 only. It provides drop-down options to search by the number of PEDro scale statistical reporting items (0-2) that have been met. This is explained in more detail below)
    • Age Group (Provides drop-down options of ‘Paediatric/adolescent’ or ‘Gerontology’)
  5. Generally the most efficient method of searching is by typing one or more words into the title/abstract text box. OTseeker will search all articles in the database and retrieve articles that contain, in their abstract or title, the keywords you specified. Please read the section below about searching using keywords.
  6. However, if you are looking for a particular article (for example, where you know the author) you can narrow the search results that will be returned by using only the relevant field, such as the Author field.

Search Results

The citations of the articles from the search are displayed on the Search Results page. By default, articles are sorted by Relevance – that is, how closely they match the search criteria specified. However you can choose to sort the results by Date (newest to oldest /oldest to newest) or by Method (systematic reviews first or randomised controlled trials first).

Most of the randomised controlled trials in OTseeker (prior to July 2013) have been critically appraised using the PEDro scale (partitioned) for 8 internal validity criteria and 2 statistical reporting criteria. At the bottom of each citation for randomised controlled trials the number of criteria that have been met for that trial is indicated. Details about what these criteria were for each trial can be found on the Detailed Search Results page for the relevant article.

Search Help Topics:

Searching Using Keywords

For the text box OTseeker can search for the following:

  • A word or phrase (simple search).
  • The prefix of a word or phrase (prefix search).

Enter the words(s) to search for. If more than one word is entered, by default OTseeker will search for articles that contain all of the words specified. In other words, OTseeker combines the words using AND. For example, if you enter occupational therapy, OTseeker will return articles that contain the words occupational AND therapy (but not necessarily next to each other).

To search for a particular phrase, enclose the phrase in double quotation marks ("). For example, by typing "pain management" you will retrieve articles that contain that exact phrase. If you had entered pain management (without using double quotation marks), by default OTseeker will search for articles containing the words pain AND management (but the words don't need to be next to each other, so you may retrieve articles that aren't specifically about pain management).

Prefix search - enter the word to search for followed by an asterisk (*). For example, entering splint* will search for all articles that have words starting with splint (such as splint, splinter, splints, splinting).

Using operators to combine terms
The above search types (simple and prefix) can be combined and multiple entries of each type can be entered. This can be achieved by using logical operators: AND, NOT, OR. Note, these operators must be typed in UPPERCASE. Parentheses, or round brackets "( )", can be used to group search criteria. The parenthesized groups are evaluated first, then the following rules apply:

  • NOT is applied before AND.
  • The OR NOT operator is not allowed. NOT cannot be specified before the first term (for example, NOT "phrase_to_search_for").
  • AND is applied before OR.
  • Operators of the same type (AND, OR) are associative and can therefore be applied in any order.

Note that by default, OTseeker combines search criteria using AND, meaning that all keywords entered must match for an article to be found.

Keyword search examples:


Searches for...


The word therapy.

pain management

The words pain and management.

"nerve stimulation"

The phrase nerve stimulation.


Any word that starts with splint.

"wrist splint*"

Any phrase that starts with wrist splint.

therapy OR pain

Theword therapy or the word pain.

splint* NOT wrist

Any word that starts with splint and excludes those with the word wrist.

pain AND (arm OR leg)

The word pain and either the word arm or the word leg.

Searching Using Text Boxes for "Author / Association", "Title" and "Journal Title" fields

OTseeker will search for the exact phrase you type in these text boxes for these fields. Do not enter double quotation marks ("). An asterisk (*) is not a wildcard - it will be included in the search if it is entered.

How Do Searches Using The 'Intervention' and/or 'Diagnosis / Subdiscipline' Pull-Down Menus Work?

Each article that is in the OTseeker database is coded according to 1) the Intervention the article addresses and 2) the diagnostic group the participants in the article belong to or which 'subdiscipline' of occupational therapy the article most closely related.

Articles are coded by OTseeker staff at the same time the articles are rated using the OTseeker scale.

For some articles it is very difficult to 'neatly' assign the article into one category. Additionally people will have different ideas about what categories mean or how articles could/should be assigned. For this reason, we have provided more information about each of the intervention categories / headings. You can access this information by clicking on the 'More Information' link. Descriptions of categories are guides for searching only and are not meant to be definitive.

Because some articles address more than one intervention they are coded in a number of intervention categories. For example, an article about the effects of respiratory rehabilitation would be coded under all of the component interventions that are conducted in that article. For example, this could include 'consumer education', 'exercise / strength training', and 'relaxation / stress management'.

Articles may also be coded as belonging to more than one diagnostic category. For example, an article about clients with stroke is coded under both the 'neurology and neuromuscular disorders' and 'brain injury' categories.

If you can't find the intervention category or diagnostic / subdiscipline group that you are wanting in the dropdown menus, the most efficient way to search is to type in keywords relating to the diagnosis/intervention you are interested in. For example, if you wanted to search for articles about pain management, it is more efficient to type in the phrase "pain management" than to select the individual interventions that comprise a pain management program (e.g. relaxation, education and so on).

Saved Search History

The history of the searches you have run is displayed at the bottom of the Advanced Search page. This tells you the date, time and keywords search and the number of articles retrieved from each search. You can view the details of the search results by clicking on the icon of the magnifying glass.

Selecting Records

To view information (Detailed Search Results) for more than one article, select all the articles that you wish to obtain by clicking in the box
()to the left of each article. Once you have made your selection, click on the button 'View Selected Articles'. A list of the articles that you selected will be shown. To view more information about these articles, click on the button 'View Detailed Search Results'.

If you have selected articles that you didn't mean to, you can 'de-select' (remove) the articles from the list by clicking in the box () to the left of each article.

To view more information (Detailed Search Results) for only one article at a time, click on the title of the article.

Detailed Search Results

The Detailed Search Results page opens in a new window, where you can view information about the article/s such as author, title, journal title, method, details of the criteria items on the OTseeker scale (for randomised controlled trials prior to July 2013), and (if the publisher has granted permission) the abstract.

To get back to the Search Result page from the Detailed Search Results page, you will need to close the window or click on the 'Return to Search Page' link in the top right-hand corner of the page. This will close the window and return you to the search page.

Refining A Search

To modify or refine your search, click on the 'Refine Search' link on the Search page and it will take you to the search fields where you can make changes to your search criteria.

Printing And/Or Emailing Search Results

From either the Search Results page or the Detailed Search Results page you can email or print your search results.

Number Of Articles Displayed

On the Search page you have the option to select the number of records that you want displayed on the search results page (10 or 20 results). By default the search will display 20 articles on each search page if you do not choose another option from the drop-down box.

What Happens If The Abstract Is Missing?

An abstract is not displayed for all articles because we need to have permission from the publisher of the journal before we display the abstract (read more about this on the Questions page). However, if a search term is typed in the Keywords text box, OTseeker will still search all abstracts even if the abstract is not displayed. The exception to this is if there is no abstract for the article in the OTseeker database. This is the case for a small number of articles where due to the style of the journal, the abstract is not included in the record for the article.