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Health Administration

Library Guide for students in the College of Health Professions Health Administration Programs

Searchable Databases

Health Services Research PubMed Queries

This resource provides specialized PubMed searches on healthcare quality and costs. Below you'll find the definitions of the specialized queries available.

  • Appropriateness: Defined as content pertaining directly to determining whether individuals who are provided with a health care service had the appropriate clinical indications to receive that service.
  • Process Assessment: Defined as content pertaining directly to assessing the process of care for people with a given health problem. These observational studies addressed who did what, to whom, why, where, when and how well.
  • Outcomes Assessment: Defined as content pertaining directly to the appraisal of various clinical decisions/management paths and their effects on patient well-being (outcomes).
  • Costs: Defined as content pertaining directly to the costs or financing of a health care issue.
  • Economics: Defined as content pertaining directly to a comparison of the cost and effects of at least two different forms of service provision.
  • Qualitative Research Studies: Defined as content that relates to how people feel or experience certain situations, and data collection methods and analyses are appropriate for qualitative data.
  • Quality Improvement Studies: Defined as content pertaining directly to interventions intended to improve the quality of healthcare, including studies of continuing education for the purpose of improving the quality of care. The focus is on the providers and processes of care.

Search Tips for Finding Qualitative Research Articles

In Any Database Use the Following Tips and Tricks:
Qualitative research can be challenging to find in bibliographic databases. This help guide will provide some tips and tricks to guide you in your search for qualitative research articles in CINAHL and other databases.
Strategy 1: Use Subject Headings
Databases use controlled keywords (known as thesaurus or subject terms) to categorize each record stored. PubMed, for example, uses Medical Subject Headings (MeSH), a highly structured index of terminology. The subject headings vary for each database according to their indexing system.  The term "qualitative research" is indexed in PubMed as "Qualitative Research" or "Nursing Methodology Research", while in CINAHL the subject heading "Qualitative Studies" is complemented by more detailed terms, including "Phenomenological Research" and "Grounded Theory".
Strategy 2: Use Text Words
This strategy uses text or keywords that might specifically identify qualitative research and searches the titles, abstracts and keywords of records held in the databases. Some Text Words include: qualitative, ethnograph*, phenomenol*, ethnonurs*, grounded theor*, purposive sample, hermeneutic*, heuristic*, semiotics, lived experience*, narrative*, life experiences, cluster sample, action research, observational method, content analysis, thematic analysis, constant comparative method, field stud*, theoretical sample, discourse analysis, focus group*, ethnological research, ethnomethodolog*, interview*.
Strategy 3: Use Qualitative Research Filters
Qualitative Research Filters are pre-formulated search strategies that have been constructed by librarians to help you retrieve articles in databases that deal with qualitative research. You can use the filter and then combine the results with your subject.
Here are just a few examples:
  • In CINAHL: Refine/Limit the set to Clinical Queries. Select within the drop-down Clinical Queries menu: Qualitative-High Sensitivity; Qualitative-High Specificity; Qualitative-Best Balance. High Sensitivity is the broadest search, to include ALL relevant material, but may also include less relevant materials. High Specificity is the most targeted search to include only the most relevant result set, but may miss some relevant materials. Best Balance retrieves the best balance between Sensitivity and Specificity.
  • In PsycINFO: Limit to Clinical queries: Qualitative, OR, try the same search, limiting to Methodology:  select Qualitative Study, Interview, or Focus Groups under the Methodology drop-down menu. Click Search.
More Tips for CINAHL:
  • Explode the Qualitative Studies subject heading, and see what you get. Explode will include the following CINAHL Headings: Action Research, Ethnographic Research, Ethnological Research, Ethnonursing Research, Grounded Theory, Naturalistic Inquiry, Phenomenological Research.
  • Experiment with related CINAHL subject headings such as Focus Groups, Narratives, Interviews (explode Interviews to include Semi-Structured Interview, Structured Interview, Unstructured Interview), Descriptive Research, Descriptive Statistics, Audiorecording, Videorecording, Diaries, Observational Methods (explode to include Non-Participant Observation, Participant Observation, Structured Categories, Unstructured Categories), Projective Techniques (explodes to include Pictorial Methods, Verbal Projective Techniques), Vignettes, etc.
  • Refine/Limit the set to Clinical Queries. Select within the drop-down Clinical Queries menu: Qualitative-High Sensitivity; Qualitative-High Specificity; Qualitative-Best Balance. High Sensitivity is the broadest search, to include ALL relevant material, but may also include less relevant materials. High Specificity is the most targeted search to include only the most relevant result set, but may miss some relevant materials. Best Balance retrieves the best balance between Sensitivity and Specificity.
  • Refine/Limit the set to Publication Types that are qualitative by definition, for example Anecdote, Interview, Metasynthesis, etc.
  • Use Text Words to find articles missed by CINAHL headings (see General Strategies #2)
  • Use a Qualitative Research Filter for CINAHL. 

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