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Ekaterini Papadopoulou
Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons
(206) 296-2341

Searching in the Nursing and the Health Sciences

Health Science questions are often grouped into two distinct approaches.  

Background questions: are used to identify foundational or general knowledge information about diseases, treatments etc. This information is typically found in textbooks; background information in can be found in our health science eBook collections, and the physical book collection 

Clinically answerable questions: these help find research specific to a patient scenario and are often referred to as "PICO" questions because they are formed using the following components:

P - people/population/problem

I - intervention/exposure

C - control/comparison

O - outcomes

PICO questions can be best answered by articles that report clinical trials; or systematic reviews of multiple trials.  These articles and reviews cab can be found in databases such as PubMed.

Point-of-care questions are questions that you need to answer while working with a patient; there are point-of-care tools that are designed to provide detailed, updated summaries for use in practice.  These include UpToDate for patient care and clinical decision-making; and LexiComp for drug information.


Things to know about health science research

There is not always a "perfect" resource available, there is a hierarchy of evidence that is used in health science research that attempts to order the types of studies by rigor and risk of bias, and sometimes you may only be able to find resources that are further down the hierarchy.  It's also important to know that the body of research skews toward white, male, and northern European research subjects; so be aware that there are gaps in the evidence and what that might mean to your patient and your own research.  Librarians are available to help you explore the research, and help you answer questions about the context of that research