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Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have created an online search engine that provides medical professionals, researchers, and the general public with a more efficient and targeted way to search PubMed for the latest, most relevant medical literature to answer medical queries. The search engine, ReleMed (a shortened form of Relevant Medicine), is not a general health site that provides answers or suggests guidelines for specific medical problems. Based on search terms, ReleMed combs the 16 million articles currently indexed by the National Library of Medicine to retrieve the most relevant, recent references published about a problem or a combination of conditions rather than a list of articles in which the search terms simply appear. ReleMed was designed so that the first articles returned in response to a query have close relationships between the search terms, which allows users to find not only the most recent articles, as PubMed does, but also the most relevant articles. ReleMed works by assigning each of the articles a relevance or priority score. An article assigned a ranking of "1," the highest possible, has clear relationships among the submitted search terms in all the critical parts of the article: the title, the abstract, and the key indexing or MeSH terms.


In an article recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association ("A Day in the Life of PubMed: Analysis of a Typical Day's Query Log"), researchers from Houston, TX and Portland, OR examined more than 2 million PubMed searches and concluded that most PubMed users seek information on the search terms and their relationship to one another rather than articles in which the search terms randomly appear. As reported in the article, most PubMed queries entail multiple search terms, and a relevance metric of the type ReleMed provides is needed to help users find articles faster.1


ReleMed has been designed for ease of use. Unlike most current MEDLINE search engines, it requires no special training or multiple steps. It accepts common medical terminology. Simply enter diagnoses or medical problems in the search box, and ReleMed returns a list of references with those search terms highlighted in red. A green box appears next to the title of the article; the darker the box, the higher the relevance. Hover the mouse over the box, and the exact relevance level appears, along with information on why ReleMed has assigned it. With ReleMed, clinicians and researchers with tightly defined search needs can search quickly for articles that address their specific interest. ReleMed users can provide feedback from the site ( Technical information can be found at




1. Herskovic JR, Tanaka LY, Hersh W, Bernstam EV. A Day in the Life of PubMed: analysis of a typical day's query log. DOI 10.1197/jamia.M2191. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2007;14:212-220. [Context Link]