Searching for good evidence

R21–0857 PHAR30400

1. What am I searching for?

The first step is preparing to turn your topic or question into a set of terms to search for:

  1. Highlight the key concepts in your topic or research question
  2. Identify synonyms — are there any related concepts or other ways to express the same idea which need considering?
  3. Consider alternative spellings or word endings

The traffic lights strategy

Once you have a broad range of search terms then you can begin to narrow them down. You can do this by applying the traffic lights strategy

  1. Green — you MUST have — these terms cannot be compromised and are integral to your research
  2. Amber — you would CONSIDER — these terms are negotiable and are more flexible. Sometimes these may include related terms to the core terms that you cannot compromise with
  3. Red — you DO NOT want — these terms are not required for your research and could detract from the focus of your research. If these terms begin to appear in your search results you may choose to EXCLUDE these
  • Why is it important to search for the relationship between patient satisfaction and patient outcomes (e.g. adherence to treatment/meds; health outcomes; service use outcomes (e.g. hospital admissions)?
  • What search terms relate to patient characteristics: esp. age, gender, ethnicity?
  • What terms represent patient satisfaction e.g. patient experience, customer satisfaction?



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