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Gerstein Science Information Centre

Public Health

This guide was created to assist Public Health students with research using library resources and also grey literature.

Step 1: Structure Your Research

Classic Question Formulation uses PICO:

  • Population
  • Intervention
  • Comparison
  • Outcome

For example, for the question: What factors affect compliance in a methadone maintenance program for patients with heroin addiction issues?

  • P: Heroin addiction
  • I: Methadone maintenance
  • C: n/a
  • O: compliance/dropouts

A New Way to Structure: Concept Boxes/Tables

 

  1. Write out the question which you would like to answer through a literature search
  2. Underline the main topics
  3. List each unique topic in one box/column
  4. Group synonymous topics in the same box/column

 

For example:

I would like to explore the factors affecting compliance with a methadone maintenance program for my patients with heroin addiction issues. Why do so many patients drop out or refuse to be treated in the first place? 

Search question becomes:

What factors affect compliance in a methadone maintenance program for patients with heroin addiction issues?

Why?

 

This helps to structure your search and allows you to search more efficiently. You can now start to gather synonyms for each of the concept areas you've identified (for example, addiction and dependence are synonyms and should both be searched for this topic)