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Public Health Resources

Sources of information for Public Health Research and Strategy Planning

Literature Search Strategies

Typical question formats to address topics in epidemiology look like:

How does ___________ relate to ____________?

Think about your core concepts (exposure/outcome). Keep search terms simple, and pay attention to keywords and other terms you see referenced in relevant articles. You can use those terms if you need to revise your search.

PICO/PECO Framework

Framework: Think About Example
Patient Problem (or Population) What are the patient's demographics such as age, gender and ethnicity, socioeconomic status or other demographic variables.?  Or what is the problem type? Pregnant Women of Color
Intervention/Exposure What type of intervention is being considered? A medication, exercise, or education, rest? or what is the exposure being considered? Prenatal Care
Comparison or Control Is there a comparison treatment to be considered? The comparison may be with another medication, another form of treatment such as exercise, or no treatment at all. No prenatal care
Outcome What would be the desired effect you would like to see? What effects are not wanted? Are there any side effects involved with this form of testing or treatment? Reduced maternal Mortality
infection rate
hand washing
no hand washing or other solution
rates of infection

Writing Your Question

Patient Problem or Population Intervention/Exposure Comparison/Control Outcome
Children with Obestiy Community Recreation Activities compared to educational programs on lifestyle changes reduce risk of Diabetes Mellitus
Do Adults Who Binge Drink none (or compared with those who don't) Have a higher risk for mortality
  Climate Change   Mosquito-borne disease spread


PICO Format

"P" stands for patient, problem, or population.

I block

"I" stands for intervention or exposure.

C block

"C" stands for comparison or control.

O block

"O" stands for outcomes.

Clinical Search Building Worksheets

Use the worksheets linked above to build and document your search. You are able to download, fill the form, and save the document.

For more on formulating your research question, and for using frameworks other than PICO, see our Formulating Your Research Question.

For more on how to identify search terms, see our page on Choosing Search Terms.

For more on combining search terms and concepts, see our page on Combining Search Concepts.