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Evidence-Based Practice Guide

This tutorial is designed to help students in the health professions choose and locate research to answer clinical questions.

Overview of PICO Questions

Pico Search Worksheet (PDF)
Use this worksheet to help clarify your question and define your clinical focus.

P: patient population/problem
I:  intervention/prognotic factor/exposure
C: Comparison intervention
O: Outcome

Locate MESH terms for your PICO in: MESH DATABASE

Pico Questions (3 min)

Question Focus

Your question focus will determine what types of evidence are best. The table below outlines the possible question types and the suggested research design.

For advantages and disadvantages of each study type, see the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine page.  

Suggested Research Design

All Clinical Questions Systematic review, meta-analysis Therapy Randomized controlled trial (RCT), meta-analysis Also: cohort study, case-control study, case series Etiology Randomized controlled trial (RCT), meta-analysis, cohort study Also: case-control study, case series Diagnosis Randomized controlled trial (RCT) Also: cohort study Prevention Randomized controlled trial (RCT), meta-analysis Also: prospective study, cohort study, case-control study, case series Prognosis Cohort study Also: case-control study, case series Meaning Qualitative study Quality Improvement Randomized controlled trial (RCT) Also: qualitative study Cost Economic evaluation
The Type of question focus is important to choosing the best study design

Source:  Ackley, B. J., Swan, B. A., Ladwig, G., & Tucker, S. (2008). Evidence-based nursing care guidelines: Medical-surgical interventions. (p. 7)St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.

Accessible version (DOC)

Different Types of Studies (7 min)

This video summarized each of the research study types and how to identify what type of study an article describes.

Finding EBP Research in the Library

This pyramid provides a basic list of where you can find the different types of evidence in the library. Tools labeled (Web) are free web-based tools which provide helpful search features. Return to Primo to locate the full-text of items from these websites.

EBP Pyramid

Pyramid of Evidence

Source: Sackett DL, Straus SE, Richardson WS, et al. Evidence-based medicine: how to practice and teach EBM.

Where to Search

Pre-Appraised Research

EBP Guidelines will summarize current diagnosis & treatment recommendations, identify the best research studies, and list gaps in research.  


CINAHL Complete (Evidence-Based Care Sheets from top menu)
The Cochrane Library  (Select Database of Systematic Reviews)
Clinical Key (Select “Clinical Overviews” from the drop-down menu)
DynaMed Plus
Pubmed Clinical Queries (Also: MEDLINE Complete Advanced Search)
Rehabilitation Reference Center (Practice Resources Tab –> Practice Guidelines)
MEDLINE Complete (Select “Practice Guidelines” Publication type)


National Guideline Clearinghouse Government-Based Evidence-Based Reports (Web)
PEDro (Physiotherapy only; not full text)
SUMSearch (not full text, Searches PUBMED)
Wisconsin Department of Health Services Treatment Intervention Advisory Committee
evidence on effectiveness of treatments for autism & developmental disabilities

Not Pre-Appraised Original Studies


CINAHL Complete (check Evidence-Based Practice box)
MEDLINE Complete (Clinical Queries drop-down)
PubMed (publication type filter)
ProQuest Health (Evidence-based Healthcare document type)
Rehabilitation Reference Center (Clinical Reviews document type)


Trip Database (not full text, filtered and unfiltered evidence)
SUMSearch (not full text, Searches PUBMED)

Background Information

ClinicalKey (ebooks)
MediLexicon (drug information & medical devices)
MICROMEDEX (drug & disease info)
Ebook Central
EBSCO eBooks

Database Tutorials

These videos demonstrate how to find evidence based practice resources in two databases. Both of these databases offer both appraised and appraised research. 

CINAHL Complete

Clinical Key

Subject Terms

Add these terms to your search using AND

MeSH Terms (MEDLINE Complete):

  • evidence-based practice
  • evidence-based medicine
  • evidence-based nursing

MeSH Publication type/Subject terms:

  • Case-control studies
  • Cohort studies
  • case reports
  • cross-sectional studies
  • Practice Guideline

Ebsco Subject Terms (CINAHL Complete)

  • Physical Therapy Practice, Evidence-Based
  • Occupational Therapy Practice, Evidence-Based
  •  Nursing Practice, Evidence-Based
  • Medical Practice, Evidence-Based

Ebsco Publication type/Subject terms:

  • Systematic Review
  • Meta analysis
  • Evidence-based care sheet (CINAHL Complete)
  • Practice Guideline/s
  • Randomized Control Trial
  • Multicenter Study (Cochrane)

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