Search Tips

Need help finding what you are looking for?


Tips for building search queries

Search for an exact word or phrase using quotes

E.g., "healthy weight"
  This will only return results that contain the word or phrase within the quotes. Only use if you are looking for a precise word or phrase.
Search for variations of a word using *

E.g., institut*
  This will return all variations of a root term. In this example, your search would retrieve all results that contain the words: institute, institutional, institutionalize, institutionalise, institutionalized, institutionalised.
Prioritize words in your search using brackets

E.g., (parent OR family)AND counselling
  This will return results about counselling interventions directed at parents or at families.
Search for one or more word using the Boolean operator OR

E.g., adolescent OR youth OR teen
  This will return results that have one or more of the words that you have included in your search. You must capitalize the ‘OR’ operator to effectively use this function. If you were to submit your search without the OR, your results would show only pages that match all terms.
Exclude a word from your search using the Boolean operator NOT

E.g., child NOT adolescent
  This will return results that contain the term(s) before NOT, and not those following NOT. You must capitalize the ‘NOT’ operator to effectively use this function.
Combine words or phrases using the Boolean operator AND

E.g., "healthy weight" AND (child NOT adolescent)
  This will return results that contain BOTH words or phrases.
Search for an author

E.g., Waters
  This will return all reviews authored by ‘Waters’. Searching by first author surname only will increase the sensitivity of your search, making it more likely that you will find the result you are seeking without excluding results by mistake.



I was expecting more results

Keep it simple! Your search may be too specific
Try making your search as simple as possible. Start with a single word or very few words, then if you don’t see what you want , use the tips above to add relevant words and build your search query. Use only important words rather than full sentences or questions. For example, instead of searching Do school-based asthma education programs improve health outcomes?, search for asthma AND school.

Check out our practice tool Developing an Efficient Search Strategy Using PICO (P = Population, I = Intervention, C = Comparisons, O = Outcomes) to help identify words to include in your search.

There are no published reviews on the topic
It is possible that there is a gap in the published review-level literature for the topic area that you are seeking. In the fields of public health, health promotion, and population health there are fewer systematic reviews compared to other clinical areas.

Your question may not be a good match for what is available on Health Evidence™
Our registry houses systematic reviews evaluating the effectiveness of public health interventions, particularly in the areas of prevention, health protection, and health promotion. You will find evidence here that helps you answer these types of questions:
  1. What are effective interventions to reduce obesity among children and youth?
  2. Is home visitation during the postnatal period an effective strategy to reduce the incidence of child abuse?
  3. Does physical activity promotion result in fewer falls among seniors?

Currently we do not house reviews related to these types of questions, which are not focused on the effectiveness of interventions:
  1. Is there a relationship between physical activity and academic performance?
  2. What is the reliability and validity of screening tools for adult depression?
  3. How satisfied are public health clients with access to sexual health clinic services?

Still have questions?
Contact us for help getting started on your search.

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