Locating background information on a given topic can be critical for understanding the scope, context and foundation for a research area of interest. Background questions tend to be broader than specific clinical questions, and may include information like:
- overviews of a particular disease or condition
- summaries of the key features of a given patient population
- explanations of a type of intervention (e.g., drug information)
- patient-facing educational materials related to a condition or intervention
- summary statistics regarding a given disease or condition
Background information can be found in a variety of sources, but particularly in books and reference resources.
When selecting a source, consider:
- currency - how recently was the resource published? Is the topic an emerging technology or within a field of inquiry where information changes rapidly? (If so, consider searching for a very recent review article or evidence summary)
- authorship - who is the author? (a person? an organization?) What are their qualifications or expertise within the field?
- intended audience - a scholarly book that is written for other scholars will contain a different level of detail, explanation and technical vocabulary compared to a textbook written for students, or a popular book that is written for a more general audience