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Evidence-Based Medicine: Review and Practice: Acquire: Turning a question into a search

Created by Health Science Librarians

To turn a clinical question into a search strategy:  

  • Ask a specific question with PICO​.
  • Develop a search to answer your question.​
  • Use a database related to your topic.​
  • Identify the levels of evidence​ in your results.
  • Find full text of the article and read more.

In the Acquire step, you will locate the highest quality, relevant information from the medical literature to answer your question. To do this, you need to select the databases and journals you will use to find the answer to your question.

Some resources, such as the Cochrane Library or Joanna Briggs Institute EBP Database, specifically gather "evidence" on clinical topics.  This could be a systematic review or a meta-analysis, where the authors have performed an extensive search and documentation process to make their work rigorous and reproducible.

 Systematic reviews are an overview of all of the evidence addressing a focused clinical question.

Other resources, such as PubMed and CINAHL, contain mixed levels of evidence. This means that you conduct a search based on your question and filter through the results yourself to identify the best quality articles on your topic.

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