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Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences

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

Background Information

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
  • analyses of the socioeconomic and historical context within which the disease or condition occurs
  • 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