Focusing your question

Defining a practice-based question: Focusing your question

  • Unfocused: What is it like to be diagnosed with cancer?
  • Focused: What are women’s experiences of receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer?
  • Very focused: What are the experiences of young (<30) Scottish women who receive a first diagnosis of breast cancer?

These three examples show how you can move from an unfocused to a very focused question. Remember that an advantage of being very focused is that it saves time when searching as it ensures that only relevant research is obtained. The disadvantage is that, if insufficient evidence exists, you’ll need to widen your search a bit. It is better to start with a focused search, then widen it out, rather than the other way round.
If you need a less focused question, it is also important to consider how to widen the question out - for example, are you more interested in Scottish women or the fact that they’re under 30?

So - on to focus a practice based question:
  • It is useful to use a process for developing questions
  • Useful acronyms for devising a question are: PICO (Health) or SPICE (Social sciences)

Pages developed with the help of Jamie Frankis, Lesley Price, Pauline Hamilton, and Ima Jackson of the School of Health and Life Sciences, GCU

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SMILE by Imperial College, Loughborough University and the University of Worcester, modified by Marion Kelt Glasgow Caledonian University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.