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EBM Resources

Types of Clinical Questions

Clinical questions may be categorized as either background or foreground. Determining the type of question will help you to select the best resource to consult for your answer.

  • Background questions: Ask for general knowledge about an illness, disease, condition, process or thing. These types of questions typically ask who, what, where, when, how & why about things like a disorder, test, or treatment, etc. For example:
    • What are the clinical manifestations of menopause?
    • What causes migraines?
  • Foreground questions: Ask for specific knowledge to inform clinical decisions. These questions typically concern a specific patient or particular population. Foreground questions tend to be more specific and complex compared to background questions. Quite often, foreground questions investigate comparisons, such as two drugs, two treatments, two diagnostic tests, etc.
    • Is Crixivan effective when compared with placebo in slowing the rate of functional impairment in a 45 year old male patient with Lou Gehrig's Disease?
    • In pediatric patients with Allergic Rhinitis, are Intranasal steroids more effective than antihistamines in the management of Allergic Rhinitis symptoms?
Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Medical Library
305 348-1466 (phone)
305 348-0631 (fax)
11200 SW 8th Street, GL 380
Miami, FL 33199