Publication Date


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Library and Information Science


Objective: Healthy People 2020 is a set of objectives with 10-year targets to guide national health promotion and disease prevention efforts. Public health professionals may have limited time to identify relevant research articles on public health strategies. NLM recognized the need to reduce the time and increase the precision of finding research to support evidence-based actions to achieve HP2020 objectives.

Methods: NLM collaborated with the HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion to develop pre-formulated search strategies ─ structured evidence queries (SEQs) ─ of PubMed to make research evidence related to HP2020 objectives easier to find. The queries were developed by librarians, working in consultation with subject matter experts in public health. The PubMed search strategies are organized by HP2020 topic areas on the HP2020 SEQ website that is supported by NLM with assistance of the collaboration, Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce. The website also provides search queries for the Healthy People 2020 Leading Health Indicators, a subset of high-priority health issues that represent significant threats to the public’s health. Information to help users learn more about PubMed, obtain full-text copies of articles, and find additional resources for public health practice are provided on the site.

Results: The Healthy People 2020 Structured Evidence Queries website,, launched in June 2011. As of the end of 2012, structured evidence queries were formulated for 268 health objectives in 24 Healthy People 2020 topic areas, with the expectation of full coverage by May 2013. The SEQs are also integrated with the HHS website. The PubMed search strategies were designed to return a manageable number of relevant citations for busy public health professionals to review. Users retrieve the most recent research articles indexed for MEDLINE on Healthy People objectives each time a SEQ is selected and run in PubMed. The search strategies can be modified to address particular practice and research needs. The website includes FAQs on how to modify and save searches, obtain copies of articles, and receive assistance from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. Additional resources on public health topics are available from the Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce website,

Conclusions: The HP2020 SEQs provide peer-reviewed research evidence to support national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. The resource is the outcome of an effective partnership between librarians, public health professionals, and subject experts.


Healthy People 2020; PubMed Special Queries; EBPH

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DOI of Published Version



Simpson EH, Sedlar LA, Lang LA. Healthy People 2020 Structured Evidence Queries for PubMed: Practice Informed by Research. Poster presentation at the Medical Library Association Annual Meeting, Abstract 130, Boston, MA, May 6, 2013.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

2013 Medical Library Association Annual Meeting

Related Resources

Healthy People 2020 Structured Evidence Queries available at; PHPartners available at