Using Health Evidence™

Health Evidence™ hosts evidence syntheses evaluating the effectiveness of public health interventions, including disease prevention, health protection and health promotion. You will find evidence to help you answer these types of questions:

 • What are cost-effective digital interventions to increase cervical cancer screening in low- and middle-income countries?
 • Is providing naloxone effective for reducing opioid-related deaths?
 • Does taxing sugar-sweetened beverages reduce dental caries in youth?

Learn how to define your question here.

Follow these tips to optimize your search results!

Build your search strategy.

Use the search filters.
The search filters provide an easy way to find what you’re looking for in Health Evidence™. Use these filters to narrow your search results or to explore all reviews in a specific category. The search filters are available on the Advanced Search page of the Health Evidence™ website.

Haven’t used the search filters before? Choose from these categories to start building your search query:

Published from: Select the years from which you would like to see search results.
Review Quality Rating: Select Strong, Moderate or Weak quality-rated evidence syntheses. These ratings are based on how the review is ranked using the Health Evidence™ Quality Assessment Tool.
Topic Area, Population, Intervention Strategy and Intervention Delivery Method: Select the criteria that best suit your research or practice question.
Review Type: Select the type of review you are looking for, such as economic evaluations, meta-analyses, narrative reviews or umbrella reviews.
Text Options: Use this filter to search specifically for Cochrane reviews, open-access reviews or reviews that are frequently accessed by Health Evidence™ users.

Selecting multiple options within each search category will result in an OR combination. Selecting multiple options between categories will result in an AND combination. For example, suppose you apply the following search filters:

Topic Area: “Cancer”
Population: “Low- and Middle-Income Countries”
Intervention Strategy: “Screening”
Intervention Delivery Method: “Online,” “Text Messaging & Mobile Apps”
Review Type: “Economic Evaluation”

Your results will include economic evaluation reviews on the topic of cancer AND with a population of low- and middle-income countries AND a screening intervention AND an intervention delivery method of online OR text messaging and mobile apps.

How you use the search filters will depend on your research or practice question. Try using a few search filters to see what reviews are available. If your search returns a large number of results, refine your search with additional search filters.

Identify relevant keywords.
Use Developing an Efficient Search Strategy Using PICO to identify search terms relevant to your research or practice question.

Use only key words, rather than full sentences or questions, to build your search query. For example, instead of searching “Is providing naloxone effective for reducing opioid-related deaths?,” search for “naloxone AND opioid AND (death OR mortality).”

Build your search query.

Follow these tips to build your search query.

Search for an exact word or phrase using quotes

E.g., "sugar-sweetened beverages"
  • Results will include the specific word or phrase within the quotes.
Search for variations of a word using *

E.g., tax*
  • Results will include all variations of a root term.
• In this example, the results would include reviews that contain the root “tax”: tax, taxing, taxes, taxation, etc.
Search for one or more word using the Boolean operator OR

E.g., child OR youth
  • Results will include reviews that have one or more of the words you used.
Combine words or phrases using the Boolean operator AND

E.g., "sugar-sweetened beverage" AND youth
  • Results will include reviews that contain both words or phrases.
Exclude a word from your search using the Boolean operator NOT

E.g., child NOT adolescent
  • Results will include reviews that include the word(s) before NOT and exclude the word(s) after NOT.
Group words in your search using brackets

Ex. (digital OR phone) AND screening
  • Results will include reviews with either word.
• In this example, the results would include reviews with the terms “screening” and “digital” or “phone.”
Search for an author's surname

E.g., Waters
  • Search results will return all reviews authored by the specified surname.

What if I don’t get any results?

If your search query does not return any search results, or the results do not match your research question, consider if:

• There is a gap in the published synthesis-level literature.
• Your question is not related to the effectiveness of public health interventions.
• Your search query is too specific. Try broadening your search.

Select evidence.

Choose the best available evidence.

When selecting relevant reviews applicable to your research or practice question, consider the context, recency, and methodological quality of the review and the quality of the included studies.

Read the evidence.

Reading the abstract is not enough! Access the full review for information on intervention characteristics, interpretation of results and final conclusions.

Note: The Health Evidence™ Quality Assessment Tool rating assesses the methodology used to conduct the review, not the effectiveness of the intervention or the review findings.

Use evidence.

The Health Evidence™ Briefing Note tool can help you concisely document, organize and share your findings.

More resources are available in the NCCMT’s Registry of Methods and Tools for Evidence-Informed Decision Making to help you synthesize, adapt, implement and evaluate public health interventions using an evidence-informed decision making approach.

Looking for more help?

Contact us at for advice on how to get started with your search!