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Table 4 Finding research evidence about options

From: SUPPORT Tools for evidence-informed health Policymaking (STP) 5: Using research evidence to frame options to address a problem

Characterising the costs and consequence of options involves finding and using many types of research evidence. When available, systematic reviews (the subject of Article 7) can help to characterise the benefits, harms, and key features of the options, as well as the views and experiences of stakeholders [9]. In the absence of systematic reviews, single studies must be found. Economic evaluations can help to characterise the cost-effectiveness of the options.
The first set of steps involved in finding such reviews and studies includes:
 
• Drawing up a list of words or phrases that capture the option (e.g. replacing 'health professionals who currently prescribe an anti-malarial drug' with 'lay health workers'), synonyms for each option (e.g. substitution), and alternative spellings for each option (e.g. doctor, doctors, physician, physicians, medical, medicine)  
• Deciding whether systematic reviews or single research studies are the focus of the search, and  
• Providing any additional details that limit the search (e.g. children, adults)
The second set of steps includes:
 
• Choosing those words and phrases that would all need to be present in order for the article to be identified (e.g. substitution, lay heath worker, and systematic review), connecting them with 'and', and placing each term in brackets  
• Choosing those words and phrases for which only one would need to be present (e.g. physician and its synonyms), connecting them with 'or', and putting each term in brackets, and  
• Connecting sets of brackets using 'and'  
The third set of steps includes:  
• Opening in an Internet browser the relevant database:  
   ◦ Program in Policy Decision-making/Canadian Cochrane Network and Centre (PPD/CCNC) database http://www.researchtopolicy.ca/search/reviews.aspx for systematic reviews of studies about health system arrangements (benefits, harms, key features, and stakeholders' views and experiences) - see Article 7 for additional information [9]  
   ◦ Cochrane Library's Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) and Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE) http://thecochranelibrary.com for systematic reviews of programmes, services and drugs (benefits and possibly harms) - see Article 7 for additional information [9]  
   ◦ Cochrane Library's Economic Evaluation Database (EED) http://thecochranelibrary.com for economic evaluations  
   ◦ PubMed http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed for the 'hedges' (i.e. validated search strategies) to find specific types of single studies (harms, key features, and views and experiences of stakeholders) - see Article 4 for additional information [2]  
• Entering the words and phrases, as well as the Boolean operators 'and'/'or' in the search field, and  
• Clicking the appropriate icon to initiate the search