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Rapid searching

Start with a single clinical question

Ensure you have a clear idea of what you're looking for, to avoid wasting time by searching vaguely.

Use PICOT to identify main concepts

Use the PICOT acronym to define concepts: Population; Intervention; Comparator; Outcome; Time frame.

Select the initial keywords

Start with the 2 or 3 most essential PICOT terms, and add others in if you need to, e.g. if the search results are not specific enough.

Collect alternative keywords

Find and gather synonyms from any sources, such as Wikipedia, or journal articles found through searching the databases or Google Scholar.

Simplify the keywords

Use the truncation wildcard, (the asterisk symbol *) to pick up alternative word endings by placing the asterisk at the end of the root of the word, e.g. child* will allow the database to return results that have the words child, children or childhood.

If we need the database to return results where the keywords appear next to each other and in the same order, we can enclose the keywords in quotation marks e.g. 'iliotibial band syndrome'.

Combine the keywords with Boolean logic

To add different concepts together, use the Boolean operator AND, e.g. "deep vein thrombosis" AND diagnos* AND d-dimer

For keywords that represent the same concept, join them together with the Boolean operator OR, e.g. fish oil* OR "omega 3"

If the search string has more than one keyword representing a concept, and multiple concepts, enclose the OR'd keywords in round brackets, e.g. (fish oil* OR "omega 3") AND (eczema OR dermatitis)

Where to search

When searching for the best evidence, start searching the clinical resources (also known as point-of-care tools) at the top of the evidence pyramid. Information at the higher levels has had the most appraisal. If nothing suitable is found higher in the pyramid, work down through the levels.

Occupational therapy