In association with

  • Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board
  • West of England Academic Health Science NetworkWest
  • National Institute for Health Research


Your helpful checklist for accessing and using evidence

  • Identify the problem or question you are seeking to answer – and have an open mind about what the answer might be!
  • Has an evidence review already been done on your topic? – check with local organisations such as Public Health, Library and other local services that may carry out evidence reviews such as an ICB
  • Refine search question– use PICO as a framework to develop a focussed question that you want the evidence to help you answer
  • Identify alternative search terms for each element of the PICO, to help  you perform a thorough and reliable search
  • Choose the most appropriate resource for your searching – do you want research evidence, policies, grey literature? Different types of evidence are accessed through different sources
  • Search – apply the different search terms you have identified, to the various databases and resources you have selected
  • Appraise the evidence you find – don’t accept it on face value: how well is it aligned to the context of your problem/question? Try to apply at least a basic set of appraisal questions or seek help with this step.
  • Too much evidence – refine your search; too little – review your search terms

Is your organisation embedding evidence informed decision-making?

Use these prompts to assess whether your organisation is embedding evidence informed decision-making:

  • Is your organisation actively promoting the use of evidence to inform decisions about current services, patient care, future investment or making change?
  • Are you planning-ahead and building in time for a thorough evidence search and appraisal, ready to inform decisions when they are being taken?
  • Or are you falling into the trap of looking for evidence to validate a decision already made? Or looking for evidence to ‘prove’ something works? It might not!
  • When talking to others about a change, a decision or investment are you referring to the evidence you have identified to add credibility and assure others that decisions are informed by evidence where relevant and available?
  • Are you making full use of national and local support, such as public health teams and universities to provide high quality evidence reviews and appraisals?
  • Are you reviewing evidence critically and ensuring it is valid and trustworthy before using it to inform decisions?