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“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something” – asking questions and searching for answers – the evidence based approach
  1. Munib Haroon1,
  2. Robert Phillips2
  1. 1Consultant Community Paediatrician, Childrens Services, Leicester City PCT, Leicester, UK
  2. 2Locum Consultant Paediatric Oncologist, Leeds teaching Hospitals. NHS Trust, St James's University Hospital, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Munib Haroon, Consultant Community Paediatrician, Childrens Services, Leicester City PCT, Bridgepark Plaza, Bridgepark Road, Thurmaston, Leicester LE4 8PQ, UK; Munib.haroon{at}


Evidence based medicine (EBM) consists of four separate processes.

  1. Asking a clinical question

  2. Locating the evidence

  3. Appraising and synthesizing the evidence

  4. Applying the evidence

Most people are familiar with the third step but not so familiar with the first two.

Well-designed clinical questions can help clarify in a clinicians mind exactly what information is being sought and also help with the search. This clinical question can be framed around the PICO format.

With a well-structured PICO information can then be located in a timely manner using the concept of Haynes's 5 S's and a range of websites including trial registers and meta-search engines.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Ethics committee approval was not obtained as this paper does not report the results of any research but was a review on conducting evidence based medicine commissioned by the journal.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.