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Research Hacked: Health & Medical Topics

Best bets for researching health and medical topics.

Clarify Health Information Seeking Needs

What kinds of health or medical information might someone need?  


Medical condition/illness, nutrition, alternative medicine/experimental treatment, prescription/drug, exercise (Clarke et al., 2016) 

College students:

Concern for a particular health condition or disease, a health-related risk or benefit, or an interest in a discovery covered by the media (Basch et al., 2018)


Therapy, diagnosis, and epidemiology (Daei et al., 2020)


Basch, C. H., MacLean, S. A., Romero, R.-A., & Ethan, D. (2018). Health Information Seeking Behavior Among College Students. Journal of Community Health, 43(6), 1094–1099.

Clarke, M. A., Moore, J. L., Steege, L. M., Koopman, R. J., Belden, J. L., Canfield, S. M., Meadows, S. E., Elliott, S. G., & Kim, M. S. (2016). Health information needs, sources, and barriers of primary care patients to achieve patient-centered care: A literature review. Health Informatics Journal, 22(4), 992–1016.  

Daei, A., Soleymani, M. R., Ashrafi-Rizi, H., Zargham-Boroujeni, A., & Kelishadi, R. (2020). Clinical information seeking behavior of physicians: A systematic review. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 139, 104144.  

Climb Dartmouth's Evidence Pyramid

Dartmouth's Evidence Pyramid provides a way to visualize both the quality of evidence and the amount of evidence available. For example, systematic reviews are at the top of the pyramid, meaning they are both the highest level of evidence and the least common. As you go down the pyramid, the amount of evidence will increase as the quality of the evidence decreases. Image credit: EBM Pyramid by Trustees of Dartmouth College and Yale University.

Levels of evidence in Evidence based research

Here's another take on the evidence pyramid indicating primary vs. secondary sources and explaining each level.

6-level pyramid of primary and secondary research evidence

Understand Evidence-Based Medicine

What is evidence-based medicine?

Evidence based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients" (Sackett et al., 1996, p. 71). Also called evidence-based practice, EBM incorporates the practitioner's expertise and clinical judgement with relevant scientific evidence to honor patients' values and preferences in recommending treatment.

evidence based medicine venn diagram


Sackett, D. L., Rosenberg, W. M., Gray, J. A., Haynes, R. B., & Richardson, W. S. (1996). Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn't. BMJ (Clinical research ed.)312(7023), 71–72.,

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