How do I access the evidence? Who can help me?
If you are new to evidence searching, or want to improve your skills, you may wish to ask for help from a specialist service. Otherwise, it’s possible to conduct evidence searches yourself, and there is more information below on how to do this.
You will have refined your question to help inform your search terms (see PICO under Step 1 of the Evidence Cycle – Identify). The information below will take you through the next step of developing your search strategy and accessing the right evidence.
Using a local specialist service
Primary Care Library Service
Don’t forget the Library is available to help! Library Staff can conduct literature searches for you, provide training on how to find resources and keep you up-to-date with research in your field. Contact details for accessing the appropriate service in your area can be found here.
Public Health Teams and evidence support
Public Health are experts in accessing and using evidence. They can provide you with support around your evidence requirements, via the Local Authority. A big part of their function is to provide needs assessments to inform commissioning decision-making. They are able to conduct literature searches and evidence appraisals as well as provide training in literature searching and critical appraisal. How they can support will vary according to the local Public Health Core Offer that exists between your Clinical Commissioning Group and local Public Health service. Contact details for accessing the appropriate service in your area can be found here. Public Health will also provide support in the use of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA), a source of evidence relating to population health and care needs, within the Local Authority area.
Conducting your own search?
Before you start…
In identifying evidence, we outline how to form a well-structured search question (using PICO). Before you start your search, we recommend you read the following on how to prepare:
- Learn how to write a search strategy
- Learn how to formulate a research question (see PICO under Step 1 of the Evidence Cycle – Identify)
- Read our summary paper on conducting your own search strategy
To gain access, through NHS subscription, to databases containing references to thousands of electronic journals and online resources free of charge, register with OpenAthens. If you have any problems contact your Library Service.
You may contact a local Health Integration Team (HITs) to see whether a team has an interest in your area of work, and can point you towards relevant research.
Watch a demonstration by an expert information specialist, to learn how to get started with searching for evidence using the databases accessible via NHS Evidence. (Duration: 9:24)
Performing your search
Search question or issue defined √
OpenAthens account √
Next – search
There is a bewildering choice of information databases available online depending on your area of interest, but we recommend you look at:
NHS Evidence – Free open access to a range of evidence services; high quality evidence and best practice. The services cover health, social care and public health evidence. OpenAthens login is required to access online database and journals.
TRIP Database – simple approach to searching many databases at once. References are listed according to strength of evidence.
The Cochrane Library – six databases that contain high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decison making. These include Database of Reviews and Effectiveness (DARE), NHS Economic Evaluation Database (EDD) and Health Technology Assessments (HTA).
The King’s Fund – holds over 100,000 latest healthcare policy and management publications.
Go to the Resources page for links to more options.
Once you have completed your search, the next step is always to critically appraise your evidence.