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Nursing

Nursing resources and subject guides for faculty and students

Asking Answerable Questions

Before you begin searching for information it's important to know what you're looking for.

What makes a question answerable?

An answerable question is formed with your literature search in mind. It contains the "key concepts" or ideas that you can use to build your search. You will need to look for different types of information to answer different questions, and you may need to look in different places.

A patient scenario, situation or story, may include several questions, which should be formed separately as each will include different key concepts and lead to a different search.

A research topic may also include several questions, which should be formed separately as each will include different key concepts and lead to a different search. This is true for CQI and questions related to implementation as well.

There are two types of questions:

  • Background questions are about general knowledge and can best be answered using textbooks.
    • Example: what are warts?
    • Go to STEP 2 on the menu on the left to learn how to answer a foreground question.
       
  • Foreground questions are more specific and relate to patient care or research. There are several types of foreground question, and each is best answered by a different type of study:
     
    Type of question Best Evidence (pre-appraised and synthesized if available)
    Diagnosis (differential or test) Quantitative
    Prospective Studies
    Comparison to Gold Standard
    Diagnostic validation studies
    Etiology/Harm Quantitative
    Randomized controlled trials
    Prognosis Quantitative
    Observational studies (cohort or case control)
    Economics Quantitative
    Cost-effectiveness studies
    Meaning Qualitative, Mixed methods
    Case studies, ethnography, grounded theory, phenomenologic approach

    Implementation

    (i.e. barriers/facilitators to and methods for implementing research in practice)

    Quantitative, Mixed methods
    Many of the above types of study methodologies can be used in implementation research, but additional types of studies such as evaluation studies and participatory action research and others can be used.
    • Example Therapy question: Is duct tape an effective treatment option for cutaneous warts in children?
       
    • Go to STEP 2 on the menu on the left to learn how to answer a foreground question, or search for evidence by type of question using the interactive evidence pyramid or interactive concept map. IMPORTANT! Don't forget to identify your key concepts or ideas first!

 

Additional reading:

Stillwell, S. B., Fineout-Overholt, E., Melnyk, B. M., & Williamson, K. M. (2010). Evidence-Based Practice, Step by Step: Asking the Clinical Question: A Key Step in Evidence-Based Practice. AJN, American Journal of Nursing, 110(3), 58-61.

Contact the nursing liaison librarian

Francesca Frati's picture
Francesca Frati
Contact:
Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences and Engineering
Macdonald-Stewart Library Building
809 rue Sherbrooke Ouest
Montréal, Québec H3A 0C1
(514) 398 1277
Social:Twitter Page
Subjects:Nursing

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