Searching for information
The strategy and places to look for information vary depending on the purpose and detail you require.
Summaries and synthesised sources (secondary evidence)
Synthesised resources summarise information that has been integrated from multiple primary research reports. They ‘help to translate research into practice and inform physician and patient decision-making. They normally constitute a very high level of evidence.’ (Greenhalgh, 2010, p 19). Part of the process of creating these sources is the critical appraisal of the primary research available.
You would look for these to inform everyday patient care as well as the first step to doing a literature review for a research study.
Examples include: guidelines, systematic reviews, narrative reviews.
Recommended resources to locate secondary evidence include:
- DynaMed: provides summarised evidence-based clinical content designed for use at the point of care and regularly updated as new evidence is published. (NHS OpenAthens login required). More information about the site is available. There is a mobile app available – details about how to acquire this are available in our quick guide.
- NICE Evidence Search NICE Evidence is provided by NICE and searches a number of evaluated sites for evidence-based health and social care. Results can be filtered by type of information to display relevant systematic reviews or guidelines. A short guide to using this site is available.
- Cochrane Library Consists of 6 databases. The most appropriate ones for systematic reviews are: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews; DARE (Other reviews); Health Technology Assessment Database.A search includes all of the databases, but results are displayed for each database.
- TRIP database Search TRIP and use the limits to filter the results to ‘Systematic reviews’ or ‘Guidelines’. TRIP searches the Cochrane Library, but also includes a number of sources not searched elsewhere. Trip promotional leaflet
- Healthcare Databases Advanced Search Some of the databases available through HDAS allow you to search specifically for meta-analyses, guidelines or systematic reviews using the limits provided. (NHS OpenAthens required).
If these sources don’t provide the answers you will need to search for primary research reports.
To help you locate the information you need quickly and effectively, it is important that you plan your search and use the search tools provided by each database. We can provide help and training on all of the available databases.
NHS Health Education England have created e-learning modules available on e-Learning for Healthcare at: – Literature Searching e-Learning Modules
Below are short guides to help you get started:
- Cochrane Library
- Trip Database
- NICE Evidence Search
- Healthcare Advanced Database Search
- Video tutorials (for HDAS)
The first step to searching for information is to register for an NHS OpenAthens account.