Home > Using Research > How can we search for research about patient views?

Evidence for patient views and preferences may be found by searching traditional databases, such as Medline, Embase or the Cochrane Library. Other sources of this evidence may include:

  • grey literature, such as health technology reports (whether indexed or not)
  • patient organisation websites and forums
  • professional organisation websites (in particular, in other guidelines), and
  • research sites.

The James Lind Alliance website, for example, is dedicated to communicating research priorities and can inform questions about topics of interest to patients.

Finding research about patient views in the published literature can be challenging, but some work has been done to create standard search strategies for key databases that can focus the search. The choice of strategy may often depend on the breadth of your topic area (for example, broad strategies may be appropriate in very specific diseases or conditions). Or the choice may depend on the expected types of studies conducted on the topic (for example, search strategies with specific terms for qualitative research or for studies measuring utilities are available). Guideline groups will need to consider their time and resources when choosing a strategy. A restricted search rather than a comprehensive search may be best if resources are limited (see table 3). When searching within specific organisation websites or in Google, for example, guideline groups could also consider using terms that are similar to those used in the strategies in table 3.

Table 3 Search strategies to find research in traditional databases related to patient views able

Search strategy 
Search strategy to systematically identify evidence addressing views and preferences with terms specific to different study designsSelva A, Solà I, Zhang Y et al. (2017) Development and use of a content search strategy for retrieving studies on patients’ views and preferences. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 15(1):126
Search strategy from Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) for publications related to ‘patient issues’SIGN search filters for patient issues
Further development of a search strategy for literature addressing patients’ knowledge, views, and values based on the SIGN strategyWessels M, Hielkema L, van der Weijden T. How to identify existing literature on patients’ knowledge, views, and values: the development of a validated search filter. Journal of the Medical Library Association 104(4):320 /324
Search strategy available from the Health Information Research Unit for finding studies in qualitative researchHealth Information Research Unit Qualitative / Medline

Alternatively, a search for already published systematic reviews may be preferred if reviews are potentially available. If a guideline group has decided to search for systematic reviews (as opposed to individually published studies), groups can consider: