STEP 2: SEARCH EFFICIENTLY FOR RELEVANT RESEARCH
Precise Searching Techniques
In Evidence-based Medicine, the goal is to search efficiently and precisely for the evidence to answer your clinical Foreground question. You will find fewer results, but more relevant ones. The PICO Form allows you to quickly gather the crucial, relevant keywords that describe your clinical question. PICO Form (.doc file)
Using the following example of a PICO form:
P: 10 year-old male with mild persistent asthma
I: Cromolyn 4 times/day
C: Montelukast once/day
O: Reduce asthma attack frequency
The relevant keywords for searching for research articles in this case would be:
Male child, mild asthma, cromolyn, montelukast
Combined these into a search query using Boolean connectors, we get:
(Male AND child) AND (mild AND asthma) AND cromolyn AND montelukast
Running that search on PubMed found the following results:
It turns out that all 3 of the articles found above help answer the clinical question – so this search had 100% precision! High precision searching is one goal of Evidence-Based Practice.
However, if you do not get any results, then you will have to search again using fewer of the specific details from your PICO form, until you obtain a relatively small number of relevant results.
An example of how one could remove specific details from the search terms above in order to create a slightly broader search is:
(child AND asthma) AND cromolyn AND montelukast
As you can see, the specific details of the child’s gender and the severity of the asthma have been removed. This search brings back about 20 results.