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Evidence Based Nursing

This guide provides information on evidence based practice in nursing

Database Search Strategies

Identify alternative and keywords to describe each PICO component. Consider the following questions to uncover alternative and keywords for each component: 


  • Who is the patient?
  • What is the population or disorder of interest?
  • What are key characteristics of the patient, problem or population?
  • What health concerns are of interest? 


  • What is the intervention or event? 
  • What therapeutic, diagnostic, preventative or other health care actions or processes are of interest? 
  • What do you want to do for the patient or population?  

Comparison (if applicable)

  • Is there an alternative intervention? 
  • What is the intervention being compared to?


  • What is the effect of the treatment/intervention?
  • What are the results of the intervention? 
  • What are you trying to accomplish, improve, or effect?

Subject Headings

Consult the MeSH thesaurus 

MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) is a controlled vocabulary thesaurus that indexers at the U.S. National Library of Medicine use to classify articles in PubMed. MeSH terms are also used by many other nursing and health research databases.