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Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM): Search Strategies

Introduces EBM concepts, terminology, resources to learn more about EBM, and how to find information for EBM projects.

Databases for Nursing

The PICO Model

PICO is a useful way of formulating clinical research questions and a well-build question or problem should include the four components of the model: Patient/Problem, Intervention, Comparison and Outcome

PICO Linguist is a tool from the NLM that lets you search for research with terms that incorporate the PICO model. Using it, you can limit your search results to certain types of studies (clinical trials, randomized controlled trials, etc.) or to practice guidelines. 


Patient/Problem   Describe the patient.  Important descriptors might include: age and gender.  Then describe the problem the patient is experiencing.  For example, you might say, "A four-year-old boy with asthma"
Intervention Describe the treatment you are considering for the patient.  This may be a drug, such as "theophylline" for the child with asthma
Comparison Ask yourself what main alternative therapy exists for the problem.  Example: "inhaled glucocorticosteroids"
Outcome Ask yourself what result you want to see because of the therapy.  Example: "decreased hospitalizations and school abscences"

Search Tip: MeSH Terms

Medical Subject Headings (MeSH terms) are categories applied by the National Library of Medicine to describe what medical publications are about

Using them can help you focus your database search to articles that address your research topic.  This video from the UAB Lister Hill Library shows how to choose MeSH terms in PubMed.  

Citation Searching

Did you know?

Screenshot of Cited By link in Google Scholar

When you find a relevant article, you can use resources like Google Scholar and Scopus to see other articles that have cited the original one.

Check out the Searching Citation Indices guide for more information about citation searching.

Search Tips: Limiting Your Search

Search more effectively and efficiently by using the tools and limiters that are part of each database, including these:  

Publication Date:  When doing research for EBM, you usually limit your search to articles from the last 3-5 years.


Publication Type: Limit your search to certain kinds of articles or research.  Other options besides those shown here include comparative studies, systematic reviews, and randomized controlled trials.


Reviews:  These present authors' findings after they have reviewed multiple previously-published research articles and can provide valuable information about trends in a field.  


Age Groups:  Limit by patient characteristics including age and sex. 

Link Google Scholar to Simmons Library Resources


Google works with libraries to determine which journals and papers they've subscribed to electronically, and then links to articles from those sources when they're available. Once you configure the Library Links settings in Google Scholar, links to the full text of articles will display in your Google Scholar results when they are available through Simmons Library.

Use Google Scholar From On-Campus

      To make these links appear, just access Google Scholar from any Simmons computer and the links will automatically be included.

Configure Google Scholar From Off-Campus

  1. Click on Settings link in the upper right corner of Google Scholar.
  2. Choose "Library Links" on the left, type Simmons University and click the "Search" button.
  3. If prompted, check "Simmons University - Check Simmons Full Text"  from the list of results.
  4. Click the blue "Save" button.
  5. Start searching Google Scholar with links to our library's resources (you may need to log in to access these resources).


PDF vs. Find Full-Text

When you're looking at search results in a database you're going to see a few different ways to get to the full article, usually either...

 or  Find Full-Text green button

Both of these will take you to the article (if we have access).

If you see the Access Options screen below, it means we don't have full-text access to the article.  Try Google Scholar first to see if it's available for free.  If not, click Request via Interlibrary Loan.  We'll get the article for you from another library, usually within a few days.