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NRS538 Research Skills Guide: Other Sources


We have looked at finding journal articles in databases, but there are potentially other sources of information.
See below for tips on using the National Health and Medical Research Council, and tips on finding clinical practice guidelines and policy documents.

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)

The National Health and Medical Research Council 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 Guidelines and Publications, and a section on Health Topics.

From the home page, you can search for guidelines, fact sheets and publications.

Clinical(?) guidelines

In 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) defined clinical guidelines 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".

So they are another source of evidence-based information that can guide clinical care and practice.

There are various ways to find clinical guidelines:

You can locate them in medical databases such as MEDLINE/PubMed and CINAHL. For example, in CINAHL Plus with Full-Text, you can apply the limiter for Publication Type > Practice Guidelines.

There are many websites that provide clinical guidelines. The NHMRC, as above, is one (Australian) example. Others are the National Guidelines Clearing House (US), and the National Centre Health and Care Excellence's Find Guidance (UK).

Also, many organisational websites, such as NSW Health or the National Stroke Foundation, offer clinical guidelines. See Policy Documents, below.

You can use an Internet search engine to find clinical guidelines. Did you know you can limit a Google search to results from a particular website or domain? The screen-shot below shows a Google search for Australian government websites with the words guidelines AND health and either "quality improvement" OR "quality assurance".

Example of a Google advanced search


Example of Google searchAnd here's a typical result: 

Policy documents

You probably won't get a Limiter for policy documents in a database but you could use "policy document" as a search term, or search for ... policy OR policies . Note that it's probably not a good idea to search for the term polic* because you might get mentions of police and policing.

Example of health website with resources for health professionals




Another way to locate policy documents (and clinical guidelines) is to go directly to organisational websites, such as the Commonwealth or State Departments of Health. Most websites like this will have a section for Publications, or Resources, where you can browse or search for current documents. Be aware that you might have to dig deeper through the public-facing information for consumers, to find information for health professionals.

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