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SHS Advanced Searching: Type of Question

SHS Advanced Searching

What type of question are you asking?

The first step in the investigation process is to determine the type of question you are asking.  Usually, questions can be broken into two types: Background questions and Foreground questions.

Background Questions

  • Ask for general knowledge about an illness, disease, condition, process, or thing
  • Usually use a question word:  who, what, where, when, why, how
    • Who is most at risk for developing Type II Diabetes?
    • What causes migraines?
    • Where is a patient most likely to contract Zika virus?
    • When do women typically enter menopause?
    • Why do I need a colonoscopy?
    • How often should men over 75 have a prostate exam?
  • Can usually be answered using books, textbooks, clinical practice guidelines, or clinical resources.

Foreground Questions

  • Ask for specific information about managing patients with a disease or problem
  • Usually have specific components or formats
  • Often have specific question types:
    • Therapy - In __________, what is the effect of __________ on __________ compared with __________?
    • Etiology - Are __________ who have _________ at (greater/lesser) risk of/for __________ compared with __________ with/without __________?
    • Diagnosis - (Are/Is) __________ more accurate in diagnosing __________ compared with __________?
    • Prevention - For __________, does the use of __________ reduce the risk of __________ compared with __________?
    • Prognosis - Does __________ influence __________ in patients who have __________?
    • Meaning - How do __________ diagnosed with __________ perceive __________?
      • Melnyk, B. M., & Fineout-Overholt, E. (2011). Evidence-based practice in nursing & healthcare: A guide to best practice. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Can usually be answered using database searching