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PBL Information Resources and Tools for the First Year: Clinical Resources

This guide provides resources and strategies for finding background, clinical and drug information, including evidence-based medicine strategies and specific information for problem-based learning exercises.

PubMed's Clinical Tools

Yes, PubMed tools go beyond the general topic search.  Some of the techniques involve using Limits (see the tutorial) others involve a special search interface (see the tutorial).


DDX Tools or Lab Text Resources?

Don't forget we have tools to help you with the differential diagnosis or finding more information about lab texts (see the Background Information Resources tab).


A clinical question is one that asks for specific information in order to make a clinical decision.  It differs from a background question because the patient's needs and desires about treatment or other medical issues will influence your question and how you decide what information will apply. It is important to come up with a good clinical question because it can help direct you to resources, identify the best terms to search with, and can help you decide upon an appropriate article.  A helpful mnemonic is PICO:

  • P:  Patient, problem, (or even population)
  • I Intervention
  • C:  Comparison (to the intervention - not always a component)
  • O:  Outcome

For example, if you have a diabetic patient, there may be a number of factors that are pertinent that you need to take into account.  For example: How old are they?  What are they currently dealing with - a new diagnosis for another condition?  Is it a new complication to the diabetes?  How do you intend to treat or diagnose the problem?  Are there 2 options and you need to find the best one?  What are you hoping to achieve or avoid with the intervention?  Has the patient expressed her's or his' desire about treatment or a specific outcome?   All of these factors may influence a good, answerable clnical question.


We have many tools for answering clinical questions and no one tool will be the perfect tool 100% of the time.  It is important to take a minute to figure out your search strategy and initial keywords.  Using PICO as a frame-work, it will help you identify your key terms to use plus remind you of important factors to keep in mind when evaluating the resources. 

  • Synthesized and Point-of-Care Clinical Resources 

      Up to Date   Cochrane: Systematic Reviews   American College of Physician's PIER   

For more detail on these resources, please see below


  • Databases - to find the primary sources of information

PubMed database     PsycINFO database Web of Science Database

For more details on these resources, please see below.

Synthesized Resources & Point of Care Tools

Primary Resources (Original Research)