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Searching the Literature for Evidence-Based Answers: Assess


  • Review the situation to find the details that will help resolve the problem.
  • Search for information that provides details about the situation to develop a stronger understanding of the clinical case.
  • Examine the information you find, apply the new information to the situation, and determine what you need to find to help the patient.

Resources for Finding Background Information

Background questions

When dealing with a clinical scenario:

  • Review the basics of the situation and ask questions that will help develop a complete understanding of all the concepts, conditions, and factors involved in the case
  • Determine if any of this information changes the way you will search for the evidence you need to help the patient
  • Use the knowledge you gain from looking for answers to these basic questions to adjust your search terms

When working on a research project for a class:

  • Review the information and develop your knowledge of the topic
  • Developing a stronger understanding of the elements of a scenario will help build expertise

Reviewing information and finding answers to questions about the topic is a valuable step in the research process whether in the clinic or the classroom.

  • Some background questions can be simple and may seem obvious, for example, "What is Vitamin B?"
  • As you gain experience and knowledge, background questions will become more complex, for example, "What other vitamins does Vitamin B work with to create proteins?"
  • At some point, your knowledge and experience will reduce the number of background questions you have to ask.

When looking for background information, try searching encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, manuals, and textbooks. You can also find a lot of background information in a number of online resources, just make sure they are reputable and always evaluate what you find.

No matter how much experience and knowledge you have about a topic, it is important to remember the rapid rate at which medicine is changing. Reviewing background information regularly will keep you current and ensure that you are less likely to make mistakes.