Search for phrases in double quotes so the database knows they are part of one concept.
Ex.: "Enhanced recovery after surgery" or "enhanced recovery"
Use an asterisk to search for words that have the same base but different variations at the end. Don't shorten too much or you may get unexpected results.
Ex.: educat* will search for education, educating, educator, educated, educational
Ex. ed* will return education terms, but it will also give you edema, emergency department, edition, editor, edge, edible
Use multiple synonyms to capture more literature on your topic. Combine with OR.
Ex.: children OR pediatric OR teen OR preteen OR adolescent OR youth
Include possible acronyms as search terms. Beware of acronyms with multiple meanings. Combine with other synonyms with OR.
Ex.: "enhanced recovery after surgery" OR ERAS
Ex.: "myocardial infarction" would possibly be MI, but this also refers to Michigan, mile, middle initial, etc.
Be sure to search for variations of spelling.
Ex.: anesthesiology OR anaesthesiology
Group your synonyms together with OR, then put parentheses around them so the database knows how to organize your search.
Ex.: ("early ambulation" OR "early mobility" OR "accelerated recovery") AND ("length of stay" OR LOS)
Each database has its own set of subjects. By searching with these subjects, you can find articles that are focused on your topic instead of just mentioning it. Often, you can see the subjects by clicking on a relevant article and scrolling down in the article information. In a search, subjects will often have a tag, such as [Mesh] in Pubmed or a code like SU in other databases.
Subjects are NOT always the same in each database, so check each database you plan to use. Beware, the newest articles may not have subjects yet, so you should try to use a combination of searching.
Ex.: "Early Ambulation"[Mesh] OR "early ambulation" OR "early mobility"
What your search might look like
PROTIP: Spend time on each part of your search separately to make sure you have a well-developed search!
Combine each part of your topic with AND.
("Early Ambulation"[Mesh] OR "early ambulation" OR "early mobility") AND ("Aged"[Mesh] OR elder* OR "older adult" OR geriatric*) AND ("Length of Stay"[Mesh] OR "length of stay" OR LOS)