Systematic reviews: Undertaking the review

Framing your question

Frame your question by relating to PICOS:

  •     Population
  •     Interventions
  •     Comparators
  •     Outcomes
  •     Study designs

PICOS is a well used, standard model for framing.

The Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York, have produced a guide which includes further details on PICOS and its use:

Searching electronic databases

Use the results from your initial searches to refine your search terms. When you have decided upon your final search terminology (inluding publication date ranges and other limitation criteria), carry out the search through each database in turn noting the number of results. This information will be added to your report.

Plan your searching

  • Think about relevant terms and synonyms
  • Trial search terms on one database to refine them
  • Use subject headings where available
  • Try and use the same terms across all databases
  • Keep detailed notes

Choosing relevant electronic databases

  • Cinahl: main allied health database
  • Medline: major medical database
  • PsycInfo: major psychology database
  • SportDiscus: useful for sports related
  • Scopus: searches Medline and Embase together plus material published by Elsevier