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University of Washington Health Sciences Library

NURS 431 Child Health Nursing: Finding and Identifying Research

Summary of Types of References

Evidence based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. The practice of evidence based medicine means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research.

Sackett DL, Rosenberg WMC, Gray JAM, Haynes RB, Richardson WS. Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn't. BMJ. 1996 Jan 13; 312 (7023): 71-2.

...research is one of the pillars of evidence-based practice.

Type of Reference Pros Cons Examples Evidence-based?

Easy to find

Can be very current

Quality variable MedlinePlus Child Development  

May lead to evidence-based sources of information in traditional literature it the references.
Expert Opinion

Quick and easy to use

Provides summaries

Can be expensive

Can be slow to update

The Lippincott Manual of
Nursing Practice

May summarize evidence and lead to evidence-based sources of information in the references.
Expert Opinion
Journal Articles        
Reviews (Narrative) Provide summaries of what is known on specific topics Methodology used in compiling the summaries may not be scientific or systematic

Headaches in children. Ovid 

May lead to evidence-based sources of information in the references.
Expert Opinion

Systematic Reviews

Provide systematically derived summaries of research studies on specific topics

Addresses a single research question

Requires some research to already have been done on the research question

Factors influencing completion of multi-dose vaccine schedules in adolescents: a systematic review.




Evidence-based, secondary research

References individual research articles


Provide systematically derived summaries of research studies on specific topics and applies statistical methods of analyses Requires considerable amounts of research to have already been done on the specific research question Prevalence of, and risk factors for, chronic idiopathic constipation in the community: systematic review and meta-analysis 


Leads to individual research articles

Research Reports/Articles

Describes original research studies and reports on results Can be time-consuming to read, interpret, and translate into clinical practice Double-blind, placebo-controlled antibiotic treatment study of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in children with chronic abdominal pain



Levels of Evidence

Graphic overview of the different types of references and the quality or level of evidence they provide.


Simplified pyramid of levels of evidence 6S hierarchy of pre-appraised evidence


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