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MID441 Research Skills Guide: Clinical Guidelines and policies


We have looked at finding books and other resources in Primo Search, and journal articles in health-related databases and Google Scholar, but there are many valuable other sources of information.

Grey Literature is a term used to describe non-commercially published literature. This can be just as scholarly as peer-reviewed journal articles, and in health includes government and association reports, clinical guidelines, reports of clinical trials and much more.

See the Library's Grey Literature Guide - Health for many useful links. Some of them are described on this page.

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) describes itself as "Australia's leading expert body for:

  • supporting health and medical research
  • developing health advice for the Australian community, health professionals and governments
  • providing advice on ethical behaviour in health care and in the conduct of health and medical research".

The website has a section on Publications and Resources, and a section on Health Advice.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is Australia's national agency for health and welfare statistics and information.

The AIHW releases numerous Reports & Statistics publications every year, including two "flagship" publications, Australia's health, and Australia's welfare (published in alternate years), and numerous shorter reports, bulletins, and online information pages and data.

All the AIHW publications are available as free downloads from the website.

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines are are a source of evidence-based information that can guide clinical care and practice. In 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) defined them as "statements that include recommendations intended to optimize patient care that are informed by a systematic review of evidence and an assessment of the benefits and harms of alternative care options".

See the links to Clinical Practice Guidelines in the Library's Grey Literature guide.  Some other ways to find them include:

  • You can locate some of them in subject databases such as CINAHL. For example, in CINAHL Plus with Full-Text, you can apply the limiter for Publication Type > Practice Guidelines.
  • Many organisational websites, such as NSW Health or the National Stroke Foundation, offer clinical guidelines. See the box at right on Policy Documents.

  And here's a typical result:

Result from Google search - result is Clinical Guidelines for Stroke Management 2010



Policy Documents

One way to locate policy documents (and clinical guidelines) is to go directly to government or organisational websites, such NSW Health, or the National Stroke Foundation. Most websites like this will have a section for Publications, or Resources, where you can browse or search for current documents. You might have to dig through information for consumers to find information for health professionals.

The NSW Health website has a prominent link on its home page for Health Professionals

You can also use Google Advanced Search to limit google results to the domain (such as or for the words to be as a phrase or only to appear in the title. Ork if you're very savvy with Google Basic Search you can type a complex search straight into the box. For example, if you want to search for the terms communication [AND] stroke where they appear anywhere in the page, plus the phrase "policy document" but only where it appears in the title of the page, and you want results only from Australian websites, your "search string" would be:

communication stroke intitle colon open double quotation marks policy document close double quotation marks site colon dot a u

Analysis & Policy Observatory

This Australian website was previously called "Australian Policy Online". It describes itself as a "not-for-profit, open access knowledge and evidence base for you to discover, share and manage public policy and practice resources". It does include health-related material.

The URL is easy to remember:

You can search or browse the website, or go to one of the featured collections.

Using google effectively

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