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Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy: Step 2: ACQUIRE/ACCESS

Resource Selection

The next step requires selecting the appropriate resources in order to begin searching the literature for the appropriate type of evidence.  Different types of research studies provide the best evidence for different types of clinical questions.  For example:

Questions about treatment:  Look for systematic reviews, randomised controlled trials, and in some cases single-case experimental research.

Questions about client’s experiences/concerns:  Look for qualitative research.

Questions about the likely course of disease/disability, likely occupational issues:  Look for cohort/follow-up/longitudinal studies.

Questions about cost-effectiveness:  Look for economic studies comparing all outcomes against costs.

Source:  Bennett JW, Glasziou P. Evidence-based practice: what does it really mean? Disease Manage Health Outcomes 1997; 1: 277–85 as cited in

For our example we are asking a treatment/therapy question, for which the best source of evidence would be a systematic review of a randomized controlled trial (RCT).


AOTA Resources

Syntheses Resources

Syntheses resources include the publication types systematic review and meta-analysis.

Search Tips

Tips to begin your search:

1)  The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has developed many resources to enable occupational therapists to find the necessary research evidence to support EBP.  These tools serve as the optimal starting point for any search, as they align directly with the foundational underpinnings of the profession. 

2)  Secondary resources synthesize and provide summaries of the primary literature.  They serve as an excellent starting point to find quick answers.  These resources can be found in syntheses resources (e.g. systematic reviews and meta-analysis); summary resources (e.g. Critically Appraised Topics (CAT) and Critically Appraised Papers (CAP)), or pre-appraised databases such as OT Seeker or Cochrane Systematic Reviews.  

3) Should you require additional resources, databases such as PubMed/MEDLINE, provide access to the primary literature. 


To learn how to appraise the validity of these studies continue on to Step 3: Appraising the Evidence.


Summaries provide an overview of findings and methods on selected topics/papers from focused questions or areas of practice.  They may or may not be pre-appraised or peer reviewed.

Studies: Primary Research Articles

Evidence is not always available via filtered resources. Searching the primary literature may be required.  These databases may also be useful in searching for qualitative studies.

Meta Search Engines

Meta Search Engines search simultaneously across many resources and return the aggregated results.