Search strategies

CENTRAL/Cochrane Controlled Trials Register




#5family planning or planned parenthood or birth control

#6birth regulat* or population regulat* or fertility regulat* or birth spacing

#7population control or fertility control or reproduct* control

#8pregnan* near (prevent* or interrupt* or terminat*)




#12intrauterine device* or intra-uterine device* or IUD* or TCu380a or CuT-200 or Gynefix

#13barrier method* or condom* or vaginal sponge* or cervical cap*


#15algestone acetophenide or neolutin depositum or chlormadinone acetate or luteran or gestafortin or prostal or cyproterone acetate or andro-diane or androcur or cyprone or cyprostat or demegestone or lutionex or desogestrel or marvelon or mercilon or dienogest or drospirenone or ethinyloestradiol or ethinylestradiol or progynon-c or estigyn or primogyn-c or estinyl or turisteron or lynoral or etifollin or ethynodiol diacetate or lutometrodiol or luteonorm or femulen or etonogestrel or gestodene or femodene or minulet or lynoestrenol or orgametril or exluton or exlutona or exlutena or medroxyprogesterone acetate or depo-provera or depocon or farlutal or prodafem or provera or depo-ralovera or ralovera or depo-prodasone or gestoral or prodasone or clinofem or clinovir or depo-clinovir or g-farlutal or lutoral or perlutex or petogen or depo-progevera or progevera or cykrina or gestapuran or prodafem or amen or curretab or cycrin or mestranol or ortho-novum or norinyl-1 or mifepristone or mifegyne or nomegestrol acetate or lutenyl or norethisterone or norethisterone acetate or norethisterone enanthate or micronovum or primolut-nor or locilan or micronor or noriday or primolut-n or norlutate or milligynon or norfor or noristerat or norluten or gestakadin or sovel or conludag or nur-isterate or mini-pe or menzol or sh-420 or utovlan or aygestin or nor-qd or norgestimate or norgestrel or levonorgestrel or dexnorgestrel or microlut or microval or mirena or norplant or mikro-30 or 28-mini or levonova or microluton or follistrel or neogest or norgeston or postinor-2 or ovrette norgestrienone or ogyline or ormeloxifene or centchroman or progesterone or gestagen or proluton or progestogel or utrogestan or gesterol or prometrium or progestasert or progestosol or utrogestan or esolut or proluton or prontogest or progestan or cyclogest or cutifitol or progeffik or crinone or testosterone enanthate

#16ovulat* near (supress* or inhibit* or prevent*)



#19abortion or abortifacient*or termination or morning after pill or RU-486 or Yuzpe


#21(female or woman or women or male or man or men) near sterili*



#24periodic* abstinen* or sexual* abstinen* or coitus interruptus

PubMed/MEDLINE (1966 - )

Search strategy for MEDLINE: generic part for randomized controlled and controlled clinical trials
MEDLINE (OVID; paid access)
1.randomized controlled
2.controlled clinical
3.randomized controlled
8.exp clinical trials/
9.(clin$ adj25 trial$).ti,ab
10.((singl$ or doubl$ or trebl$ or tripl$) adj25 (blind$ or mask$)).ti,ab
22.20 not 21
24.23 not 22

PubMed (free:
"randomized controlled trials"[MESH:noexp] OR 
"random allocation"[MESH:noexp]) OR
"double-blind method"[MESH:noexp]) OR
"single-blind method"[MESH:noexp]) OR 
"clinical trials"[MESH]) OR 
"placebos"[MESH:noexp]) OR
"research design"[MESH:noexp]) OR
"comparative study"[MESH:noexpl]) OR
"evaluation studies"[MESH]) OR
"follow-up studies"[MESH:noexpl]) OR
"prospective studies"[MESH:noexpl]) OR
"cross-over studies"[MESH:noexpl]) OR
"intervention studies"[MESH:noexpl]) OR
"randomized controlled trial"[pt]) OR
"controlled clinical trial"[pt]) OR
"clinical trial"[pt]) OR
"clinic* trial*" [title/abstract word]) OR
(((("singl*"[title/abstract word] OR "doubl*"[title/abstract word]) OR 
"tripl*"[title/abstract word]) OR "trebl*"[title/abstract word]) AND ("blind*"[title/abstract word] OR 
"mask*"[title/abstract word])) OR
"placebo*" [title/abstract word]) OR 
"random*"[title/abstract word]) OR 
"latin square"[title/abstract word]) OR
"control*"[title/abstract word]) OR
"prospectiv*"[title/abstract word]) OR
"volunteer*"[title/abstract word]) NOT 
("animal"[MESH] NOT "human"[MESH]))

EMBASE (1980 - )
In addition to Central/CCTR and MEDLINE, EMBASE (the Excerpta Medica database produced by Elsevier Science) should be searched. EMBASE is a major biomedical and pharmaceutical database indexing over 3,500 international journals in the following fields: drug research, pharmacology, pharmaceutics, toxicology, clinical and experimental human medicine, health policy and management, public health, occupational health, environmental health, drug dependence and abuse, psychiatry, forensic medicine, and biomedical engineering/instrumentation.

Search strategy for EMBASE: Generic part for randomized controlled and controlled clinical trials
1.clinical article/
2.clinical study/
3.clinical trial/
4.controlled study/
5.randomized controlled trial/
6.major clinical study/
7.double blind procedure/
8.multicenter study/
9.single blind procedure/
10.phase 3 clinical study/
11.phase 4 clinical study/
12.crossover procedure/
18.((clinic$ adj25 (study or trial)).ti,ab
27.((singl$ or doubl$ or trebl$ or tripl$) adj25 (blind$ or mask$).ti,ab
29.(versus or vs).ti,ab
31.14 or 30
35.animal experiment/
36.33 or 34 or 35
37.32 not 3
38.31 not 36
39.31 and 37
40.38 and 39

Additional Electronic Databases

CINAHL (1982 - )
The Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health (CINAHL) database provides authoritative coverage of the literature related to nursing and allied health. Virtually all English-language publications are indexed along with the publications of the American Nurses Association and the National League for Nursing.

HealthStar (1975 - )
HealthSTAR contains citations to the published literature on health services, technology, administration, and research. It focuses on both the clinical and non-clinical aspects of health care delivery.

PsycINFO (1887 - ) 
The PsycINFO and PsycLIT databases cover the professional and academic literature in psychology and related disciplines including medicine, psychiatry, nursing, sociology, education, pharmacology, physiology, linguistics, and other areas. Coverage is worldwide, and includes references and abstracts to over 1300 journals (and in PsycINFO, to dissertations) in more than 30 languages, and to book chapters and books in the English language. Over 50,000 references are added annually. Popular literature is excluded.

POPLINE (1970 - ), free access: 
POPulation information onLINE provides worldwide coverage of population, family planning, and related health issues, including family planning technology and programs, fertility, and population law and policy. In addition, POPLINE focuses on particular developing-country issues including demography, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, maternal and child health, primary health care communication, and population and environment. POPLINE citations are searchable with POPLINE keywords as well as MESH headings. The file is produced by the Population Information Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. The database is funded primarily by the United States Agency of International Development.

Hand searching

The following journals are being searched prospectively by hand:

Advances in Contraception (1985-1997 completed by Dutch Cochrane Centre; 1998- search ongoing)
The Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care [formerly Journal of Family Planning Doctors and British Journal of Family Planning] (1975-1997 completed; 1998- search ongoing)
Contraception (1970-1996 completed by Cochrane Menstrual Disorders Group;1997- search ongoing)
European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care (1996- search ongoing)

The following journals are newly registered for searching prospectively by hand:
Family Planning Perspectives (1969-)
Studies in Family Planning (1963-)
Population Reports: 
Series A Oral Contraceptives (1974-)
Series B Intrauterine Devices (1973-)
Series C Female Sterilization (1973-)
Series D Male Sterilization (1973-)
Series F Pregnancy Termination (1973-)
Series G Prostaglandins (1973-)
Series H Barrier Methods (1973-)
Series I Periodic Abstinence (1973-)
Series J Family Planning Programs (1973-)
Series K Injectables and Implants (1975-)
Series M Special Topic Monographs (1977-)


Type of study

Randomised controlled trials

See the guidelines


The main product of CONSORT is the CONSORT Statement, which is an evidence-based, minimum set of recommendations for reporting randomized trials. It offers a standard way for authors to prepare reports of trial findings, facilitating their complete and transparent reporting, and aiding their critical appraisal and interpretation.


The CONSORT Statement comprises a 25-item checklist and a flow diagram. The checklist items focus on reporting how the trial was designed, analyzed, and interpreted; the flow diagram displays the progress of all participants through the trial. The CONSORT “Explanation and Elaboration” document explains and illustrates the principles underlying the CONSORT Statement. We strongly recommend that it is used in conjunction with the CONSORT Statement. In addition, extensions of the CONSORT Statement have been developed to give additional guidance for RCTs with specific designs, data and interventions.


Non-randomised controlled trials





Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews (MECIR):