This tutorial was developed by staff at Duke University Medical Center Library and the Health Sciences Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is used with permission by Saint Louis University Medical Center Library.
Two additional elements of the well-built clinical question are the type of question and the type of study. This information can be helpful in focusing the question and determining the most appropriate type of evidence or study.
The type of question is important and can help lead you to the best study design:
Most common type of questions:
Type of study:
how to select and interpret diagnostic tests
prospective, blind comparison to a gold standard or cross-sectional
how to select treatments that do more good than harm and that are worth the efforts and costs of using them
randomized controlled trial > cohort study
how to estimate the patient’s likely clinical course over time (based on factors other than the intervention) and anticipate likely complications of disease
cohort study > case control > case series
how to identify causes for disease (including iatrogenic forms)