Nursing Questions

May 26th, 2014

Recently, we looked at how to do basic research.  Those techniques will serve you well any time you’re searching for information, but if you’re doing nursing research, there are several great tools available to you at IU East that will help you with this very specialized topic.

Medicine is one of the fields where reliance on scholarly, vetted resources is the most important.  While there are a few trustworthy medical websites on the free web, such as PubMed and the Mayo Clinic, in general medical advice on the free internet should be avoided at all costs.  The practice of medicine is too complex, and situations too linked to individual patient histories, to trust an anecdotal story someone put up on their blog.

Databases like CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature), Nursing and Allied Health, MedLine, and Journals@OVID are among the very best sources for high-caliber, vetted information.  Chances are, you’ll use these databases more than any other (and all of our other nursing-oriented databases can be found here).  The library has produced several nursing database video tutorials for the larger databases to make them easier to use, such as this one:

So, using the basic techniques we’ve learned, if we had a question like “What are the health problems that need to be addressed on the Chinle, Arizona reservation?”  We would start with a database like CINAHL and try a search like:

(navajo OR chinle) AND (health* OR medic* OR nurs*) AND (problem* OR concern*)

You can see that we’re looking for three concepts in the question (which we have grouped in parentheses), and our search includes synonyms for each of them to make sure we don’t miss anything.  We’ve also limited to only full text articles.  Setting up a search like this gives us many more great options than if we had just typed “chinle health” and hoped for the best.

In the field of nursing, though, there are several special types of information you will need that don’t have equivalents in other disciplines.  We have special tools for these, too.


What medicines do, what their side effects are, how they interact with other drugs being taken or existing medical conditions – these are incredibly important concerns of any medical practitioner.  And how specific these issues are to each individual patient’s case makes the application of medicine a very complex subject.  However, detailed guidebooks like the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) and Mosby’s Drug Guide for Nurses can make a huge difference.  Look up drugs by brand name or generic name, browse dosage guides and the results of clinical studies, check precautions and known adverse reactions, even determine whether the drug can be transmitted, such as through breast milk.  The PDR even has supplemental volumes covering herbal medicines and non-prescription drugs.


More and more frequently, evidence-based practice (EBP) is considered the best course of action to inform all practical point-of-care decisions.  While many databases include some quantitative evidence-based practice among their other qualitative or theoretical studies, IU East has several databases that are completely dedicated to evidence-based medicine and research studies that conform to it.

UpToDate is one of these, offering quantitative backing for practice of any disease or disorder, broken down by patient characteristics like adult or juvenile recipients.  It is good for finding diagnoses, treatments, possible challenges, and more.  Graphs and illustrations are included, as well.  Another choice is the Joanna Briggs Institute EBP, one of the OVID databases.  It allows you to search patient needs by category, such as rehabilitation, cancer, or the elderly, and offers data, protocols, and fact sheets.  Its recommendations are graded by how well the quantitative research backs the suggested option – grade A means that there is strong support that merits application, grade B means there is moderate support, and grade C indicates that the option, while sometimes used, is not well supported by quantitative research.

With these tools, looking for medical or nursing information can be easy.  But if you need any additional help, please contact us at!