Find the Evidence

How to perform a search

Small purple icon of a finger pointing at a computer tablet  H​ow to perform a search

This section will guide you through the process and theory behind evidence searching.

To ​​book onto a training session on evidence searching please complete our training request form and we will contact you to arrange a mutually convenient time.


Why Search?

An evidence search is required to support your evidence based practice, ensuring you have all the information required to make decisions. You will need to do evidence searches:

  • To support clinical decisions
  • To justify service re-design
  • As evidence for business cases (both commissioning and de-commissioning)
  • To find outcome measures
  • To be kept up to date in a specialist interest
  • To find information to support study
  • To support Audit / Research

To see examples of requested searches click here.

When to Search

It is important to do your search at the beginning of the process (process being a business case, study, etc).
The purpose of an evidence search is to gather all the information you will need to come to a conclusion. 

Where to Search

It is important to search the most relevant databases. Please see our databases section which will guide you on the appropriate databases to use.

Developing your Search Strategy

It is important to spend a little time before you do your search, developing your strategy.

  • Formulate your question 
    • eg. Is weight loss surgery cost effective?
  • Keywords & Alternative Terms
    • The theory behind searching is to retrieve information on individual keywords and then combine them. 
    • To perform a thorough search you must also think of possible alternative terms.
    • In our example the keywords and alternative terms are:

       Keyword 1 
       Weight Loss

Keyword 2 

Keyword 3
Cost effective

       Alternative Term
       Weight Reduction

Alternative Term
Bariatric Surgery

Alternative Term
Cost Benefit Analysis
Cost Savings

  • Limits - Most databases will allow you to set limits, examples are:
    • Publication date
    • Publication type
    • Gender
    • Age range

Inputting your search

You will now need to input your search into a database, the guides below will give you a step by step guide on doing this:

Combining your keywords