PIO Question: In patients suffering from acute bronchitis, do antibiotics reduce sputum production, cough or days off?
Patient: patients with acute bronchitis
Outcome: reduction of sputum production, cough and/or days off.
I found it somewhat difficult to effectively find relevant information for my PIO question originally. Bronchitis is a prevalent disease, and there is an abundance of medical articles published about it. Similarly, the topic of antibiotics has been under the spotlight in medical research for a considerable time. As such, I had to be very specific with my keywords and used a snowball technique to add new ones to my list. I took the liberty of also reading some articles out of the established relevancy range to get some inspiration regarding keywords.
Given the dynamic nature of knowledge-building and theory-generating qualitative systematic reviews, it’s no surprise that searching the literature is a dynamic process that necessitates constant monitoring and recalibration. Curiosity piques, niggling questions arise, and literature searches are launched based on available facts and personal insights in these types of reviews. Out of the databases allowed within the assignment, PubMed proved to be the most accessible one in terms of available content and the existing sorting mechanisms. A similar situation appears to be the case for many of my classmates.
The main pillar of my successful literature search strategy can be easily identified in the correct structure of the PIO question. I was able to properly identify the concepts or variables that make up the specific research topic by using a structured question frame. The most popular question frame used in health sciences research is PICO(T), which consists of the following elements: patient, intervention, constraint, and outcome (New York University, 2022, para. 3). There was no constraint in my scenario, thus, just the P, I, and O components were important in my question. Having a strong and, most importantly, a structurally correct titular question made the process of literature search more manageable for me. Since the PICO question is the current standard in the modern nursing practice, it would arguably be very difficult for another format to be easily adapted to the demands of the algorithm.
Furthermore, I paid particular attention to subject titles as a means of organizing and sifting bronchitis and antibiotic-related articles. While working with the database, I noticed that the records were labeled with a controlled vocabulary to designate the topics covered in the entire articles. Index words or subject headings are the correct terms for these elements, which simplified my literature research significantly. Because they are chosen from regulated thesauri that provide definitions and acceptable usages, they are considered a controlled vocabulary; these terms may differ from the natural language text that one would initially choose to describe a topic. In my case, the index words antibiotic treatment and bronchitis treatment.
While browsing the information in the databases, it was interesting to see how these theoretical concepts were incorporated into the interfaces of the relevant websites. Most of the databases provided include a manageable filtering system, allowing the users to set the acceptable range of publication dates and journals if necessary. As required in the assignment, I was only reviewing the articles published within the last five years, as in between the years 2017 and 2022. Some of the databases also allowed to prevent articles with certain keywords from appearing on the list.
New York University. (2020). Search strategies: Framing the question (PICO). Web.