Evidence checklist

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 (P – patient, population and problem, I – intervention, C – comparison, O – outcomes) as a framework to develop a focused 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 or 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?

The Evaluation and Evidence toolkits go hand in hand. Using and generating evidence to inform decision making is vital to improving services and people’s lives.

About the toolkits