Finding the Needles in the Haystacks: Evidence Hunting Efficiently & Effectively

Searching for the right evidence is an art & a science.   In an effective search, the RN: twoOnComputer

  1. Identifies excellent key words based on a clear problem statement
  2. Systematically searches the best databases for those words
  3. Keeps a record of the search strategy.

This is actually a pretty simple time-saver because it keeps you from having to repeat searches because you can’t remember where you looked!!

Let’s take an example that we used previously.  Here’s how it was laid out in PICO (which stands for Population/problem, Intervention, Comparison intervention, & Outcome)

  • Population/problem= Postoperative patients with ileus (Patient population &Problem)
  • Intervention= Gum chewing postop (Intervention to try out)
  • Comparison intervention= NPO with gradual diet progression when bowel sounds start returning
  • Outcome= Reduce time of postop ileus with sooner return to nutritious eating

We would:magnifyingGlass

  1. Using PICO, identify key concepts (words), such as “postoperative ileus” “gum chewing” and “NPO.” Note that you can pick single words or combinations of words.
  2. Search for this set of words in the very comprehensive databases of PubMed and also in CINAHL. CINAHL is more nursing specific, and PubMed is one of the most comprehensive out there. Search from MOST RECENT to earlier.  Go for only most recent 5 years unless 5 years doesn’t give you enough articles.
  3. Keep notes of exactly which words and phrases you used to search each database

This 5 minute video shows you a GREAT way to make sure that your search is complete with minimal effort. It’s an easy-peasy tracking strategy for where you’ve already looked. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=233DzkmimV4&list=PLE3A977BE32CF3956

CRITICAL THINKING: What are the key words of your clinical problem of interest.  (You can choose to use PICO or not.)  Plug them into PubMed.  Did you get enough articles?QUESTION

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