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Physical Therapy: Evidence-based Practice


Evidence-Based Practice

These databases contain varying levels of evidence.  Ranging from expert opinions to systematic reviews and meta analyses, these health sciences databases are the best place to start your search.  Most of the information in these databases has been peer-reviewed, but most articles have not been evaluated by experts to determine the strength of the evidence.  This is called unfiltered information.

These resources will generally provide higher levels of evidence because experts have collected, analyzed, and reported on the evidence for you.  This is called filtered information.  Higher types of evidence include Systematic Reviews, Meta-Analyses, Guidelines, Critically Appraised Topics and more.

You can also search for specific Publication Types or Article Types like Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis, Guideline, or Randomized Controlled Trials in Health Sciences Databases like CINAHLPubMed, and ClinicalKey for Nursing.

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Special Topic: Literature Reviews and Integrated Literature Reviews

Integrative Reviews:  1) commonly include non-experimental research, such as case studies, observational studies, and meta-analyses, but may also include practice applications, theory, and guidelines; 2) search and selection methodology should be described well enough for another researcher to duplicate the process; 3)  selected literature should be analyzed, not just summarized--articles and groups of articles compared, themes identified, gaps noted, etc.

Recommended: The integrative review: updated methodology (Whittemore & Knaf, 2005, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 52(5), 546–553) provides an overview of the purpose and practice of integrative reviews.

Literature Reviews: 1) Summaries of relevant literature; 2) generally descriptive; 3) not necessarily any analysis of the literature; 4) methodology of the literature search is not always given; 5) good for gaining background knowledge of a subject without having to do all the searches and reading yourself; 6) good source for starting reading lists and literature searches; 7) not generally considered a good source for clinical decision making; 8) Note: In the past, reviews were not differentiated by type, so older reviews may use systematic or integrative methodology but not be specified as such.

Finding Too Few Articles?

You can expand a search by using synonyms for your concepts combined with the Boolean connector OR, e.g. nursing homes OR long term care

Identify the 1-2 important concepts in your search question and leave out any non-essential words.