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Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences: FAQ's

Guide to locating OT and Rehabilitation research evidence in books, journal articles, databases, and the web

Frequently Asked Questions

Finding Full Text

Locating the full text of an article:


  • From a database citation, look for a link to "full text" or an NYU icon: 

    The "get-it" link will display options for the full text if available via NYU's electronic subscriptions. 

  • If the journal title (or year of publication) is not available electronically, use the link to search the Bobcat catalog to locate a hard copy
  • If the journal title (or year of publication) is not available in Bobcat  click on the link to Interlibrary loan to order

Search Strategies--Background Information

Beginning a literature search, you may be looking for overview/background information. 
BACKGROUND QUESTION asks for  general knowledge about a disorder, disease, policy issue, etc. 


Background information may be found in sources such as:

·      reference book entries or  selected Ebooks/Encyclopedias in the health sciences

·      textbooks, chapters, appendices

·      drug monographs, guides to diagnostic tests, ebook drug guides like these

·      the library’s Bobcat catalog


Sample Search Strategies for Background Questions:


Appropriate source type:

Sample Strategy(ies):

1. What are the side effects of Lipitor?


Drug reference book


2. What is Asperger Syndrome?

Textbook, monograph, review article START WITH:
  • StatRef (collection of reference tools, including drug references). Search on name of disease or condition.

  •  Access Medicine

Use the Bobcat library catalog to search on Asperger and retrieve:print and electronic books, such as:  The complete guide to Asperger's syndrome (Tony Attwood)

A “Review” article in a journal may provide an up-to-date summary/overview of a broad topic. Search Medline/Pubmed or CINAHL, limit to Publication/Article type: "Review." (Journal articles are discussed in more detail in foreground questions)


3. Evidence of the relationship between dementia and caffeine consumption.

Article databases, both popular and scholarly

Proquest Central (for recent popular and scholarly journals as well as newspaper articles)

Medline/Pubmed (for scholarly biomedical research)

A “Review” article in a journal may provide an up-to-date summary/overview of a broad topic. Search PubMed, limit to Article Type: "Review."

4. I need an overview of gestational diabetes.


Textbook, monograph, review article


  • StatRef (collection of reference tools, including drug references)

Search on name of disease or condition.

Use the Bobcat library catalog to search on gestational diabetes and retrieve:

Title: Management of high-risk pregnancy : an evidence-based approach/  Queenan, John T., 2007.

5. The best evidence available about umbilical cord care.

Article databases, both popular and scholarly

Locating the "best evidence" might mean locating a synthesis such as a "Systematic Review" or a "Randomized Controlled Trial." 

CINAHLPlus: search Umbilical Cord, use Search Options to limit to Publication type: "systematic review"

Medline/Pubmed: search Umbilical Cord AND Sepsis, limited to Journal Subset: Systematic Reviews. OR use the Limits for Article Type: limit to randomized controlled trial. More about Limits here.

6. I am interested in the phenomenon of burnout in nurses.

  • Textbook
  • monograph
  • a review article
  • Locate an overview in an article (link to Burnout AND Nurses in: sample database searches )
  • Use the Bobcat library catalog to search on search for:  nurses burnout. Notice related subject headings:

    Medical personnel – Job stress
    Burn out (Psychology)

    Burnout, Professional 
  • Search the Ebook Central collection of electronic texts.  Start with burnout AND nurses

    Notice how it leads to the subject: "medical personnel job stress" suggesting another way to search

  • A “Review” article in a journal may provide an up-to-date summary/overview of a broad topic. Search Medline/Pubmed or CINAHL, limit to Publication/Article type: "Review." 

7. What research is available on the issue of privacy related to computerized patient records?


A Review article in a journal












A book or an ebook on medical ethics and legal issues

A “Review” article in a journal may provide an up-to-date summary/overview of a broad topic. Search PubMed or CINAHL, limit to publication type: "Review." (Journal articles are discussed in more detail in foreground questions)

 A Pubmed search: privacy computerized patient records Limited to publication type: “Review article” retrieves >190 citations. Here is one example:

Security Techniques for the Electronic Health Records. Kruse CS, Smith B, Vanderlinden H, Nealand A.

J Med Syst. 2017 Aug;41(8):127.


Search the Ebook Central collection of electronic texts.  Or search the Bobcat catalog. Browse the Nurse's Legal Handbook

8. What are the personal experiences of medical students?


Memoir, biography, diary

A BobCat search medical students biography (as query words anywhere in the record)  leads to titles with subject headings to explore for related results:

Students,  Medical  Personal  Narratives

Or the more specific:
  Students, Medical    United States   Personal Narratives

9. I am looking for overviews or background information for best practices regarding nurse "rounding." 

look for a Review article

look for an evidence synthesis or summary

Search CINAHL: (MH "Patient Rounds") limited to publication type: Review

Search PubMed
(rounds or rounding) AND nurses 

Limit to "review" articles

Search the Joanna Briggs EBP database, on (rounds OR rounding). Next, limit to publication type: Evidence Summaries

Search Nursing Reference Center Plus (NRC) :
rounds OR rounding 
Limit on left menu to "evidence based care sheets."

10. I am looking for evidence summaries on the topic of nurses "self-care" or reasons for neglecting self care. Search a nursing-focused aggregation of evidence.  The summary, synthesis, or reference list may lead to more evidence.

Search the Joanna Briggs EBP database, on burnout.

Search Nursing Reference Center Plus (NRC) on: nurses AND "self care." Limit on left menu to "evidence based care sheets."

Search CINAHL, (MH "Self Care+")
then limit results to publication type: "systematic review."

One sample result :

Halm, M. (2017). The Role of Mindfulness in Enhancing Self-Care for Nurses. American Journal of Critical Care26(4), 344–348. Link

11. I am looking for overviews on nursing leadership roles and transition from staff nurse to a leadership role. A large topic, perhaps encompassed in a book length treatment of the subject nursing leadership.

Browsing the Bobcat catalog or EbookCentral, notice the subject terms:

Nursing services -- Administration.

that describe many titles.  Try an advanced search using the subjects: 
Nursing services--administration

Browse book indexes, look for chapters on transition or succession planning, etc. Or mentorship or mentoring. 

*Sackett, D. L., Straus, S. E., Richardson, W. S., Rosenberg, W., & Haynes, R. B. (2000). Evidence-based medicine: How to practice and teach EBM (2nd ed.). Edinburgh ; New York: Edinburgh ; New York : Churchill Livingstone.  

Search Strategies--Foreground Questions

Foreground questions seek evidence to answer a need for clinical information related to a specific patient, an intervention or therapy. Identifying the PICO (T) * elements helps to focus your question:


  • P = problem/patient/population
  • I = intervention
  • C = comparison intervention
  • O = outcome

  • (T)= time factor, type of study (optional)

Sample Search Strategies for Foreground Questions:


Natural language terms

Terms translated to Subject headings/MeSH terms/Descriptors  [Database]

Sample PubMed Searches

1. Does hand washing among healthcare workers reduce hospital acquired infections?

Hand washing


Hospital acquired infection

Hand disinfection [MeSH]


Cross infection [MeSH]

Link to Handwashing AND hospital acquired infection

2. What is the effectiveness of continuous passive motion therapy (CPM therapy) following knee replacement in achieving optimal range of motion?

CPM therapy


Knee replacement

arthroplasty, replacement, knee   [MeSH]


motion therapy, continuous passive [MeSH]

Link to CPM Therapy AND knee replacement in sample PICO (T) searches

3. Is the incidence of ventilator-associated-pneumonia decreased by a
higher nurse-patient ratio?
ventilator associated pneumonia

nurse-patient ratio

pneumonia, ventilator associated [MeSH]

(Nursing staff, hospital [MeSH]
Personnel staffing and scheduling [MeSH])

Link to Ventilator-associated Pneumonia AND nurse-patient ratios in Sample PICO (T) searches

4. What is the effectiveness of restraints in reducing the occurrence of falls in patients 65 and over?





Accidental falls [MeSH, CINAHL]


Restraint, physical  [MeSH, CINAHL]

Link to sample CINAHL search: Falls AND Restraints in Sample PICO(T) searches

5. How do universal lunch programs affect childhood obesity rates? (Policy question)

universal lunch

OR school lunch


childhood obesity

Food Services [CINAHL]


Obesity [CINAHL]


Schools [CINAHL]

in PubMed:

Schools [Mesh]


Food Services [Mesh])


Obesity [Mesh]


6. Does having access to fresh fruits and vegetables in neighborhood stores affect nutritional health of Hispanic Americans living in urban areas?
(Population question)

food shopping, grocery shopping, grocery stores, food stores, bodegas, convenience stores

fruits, vegetables


urban, city, cities

In PubMed, search:

"Food Supply" [Mesh]
("Fruit"[Mesh] OR "Vegetables"[Mesh])


"Hispanic Americans" [Mesh]


7. I am looking for evidence-based articles on managing acute pain in sickle cell patients?



sickle cell

In PubMed, search:

pain/therapy AND anemia, sickle cell

then use Limits to limit to the Subset: Systematic Reviews


Use Limits to limit to Article Type: Randomized Controlled Trial or Meta-analysis


 LINK to more Limiting strategies

8. I am looking for articles on the use of pet therapy with autistic children?




Link to CINAHL

Search on:

pet therapy OR animals OR human-pet bonding [Cinahl headings]


autistic disorder [Cinahl heading]

Limit to age group: ALL CHILD

 Link to more limiting strategies

*Heneghan, C., & Badenoch, D. (2002). Evidence-based medicine toolkit. London: BMJ Books.

What is google scholar? How should I use it?

Google Scholar is a time-saving, scholarly search interface accessible from within the Google interface. With Google Scholar, you can access peer-reviewed journal articles, books and book sections.  For literature searching, specialized databases have more functionality and access more comprehensive results, but Google Scholar is a good tool to use for a search for a known item.

You can configure Google Scholar to:

  • Display a link to NYU options for the full-text of an article
  • Export your citations to RefWorks or EndNote

Here's how to display NYU links:

  1. Open
  2. Go to the left screen, 3 bars, "Settings" 
  3. Click on menu item, "Library Links"
  4. Type in: NYU
  5. From the results, put a check mark next to "New York University Libraries-GetIt at NYU"
  6. Click on Save to save preferences.

The next time you search, the GetIt at NYU option will be available next to accessible article citations.


Here's how to change settings for Bibliography manager:

  1. Open
  2. Go to the left screen, 3 bars, "Settings" 
  3. In the Search Results, go to Bibliography Manager
  4. Select Show Links  to import citation into: (your choice of bibliography manager, BibTex, Refworks, Endnote, etc.)
  5. Click on Save to save preferences.