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Physician Assistant

This guide will help you find resources related to the Physician Assistant program.

Project Assignment

Find 3 or more studies on your topic: at least 2 must be Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs). ALL must be a primary research study (case, cohort, etc.). You cannot use a topic if there is a Cochrane systematic review or meta-analysis unless your studies were published after the existing review.

P patient problem, population, or situation

I intervention, including an exposure, a diagnostic test, a prognostic factor, a treatment, a patient perception, and so forth.

C comparison intervention or exposure (also defined very broadly), if relevant.

O outcome(s) of interest, including a time horizon, if relevant.

For tips on formulating a PICO and distinguishing POEMs from DOEs


P: Patient, Population, Problem or disease
    who are the patients, what is the problem

I: Intervention or Issue
    what we do to them, what are they exposed to

C: Comparison intervention or issue
    what do we compare the intervention with

O: Outcome
    what happens, what is the outcome


Evidence Based Medicine Databases

Synthesized resources are a specialized form of secondary literature and focus on critical appraisal of a number of primary resources. They most commonly address clinical topics and appear as systematic reviews, meta-analyses, clinical practice guidelines, critically appraised topics, or decision analysis.

Dynamed, Clinical Evidence, and UpToDate are synthesized EBM tools and can not be used for this project.

Core Drug Databases

Evidence Updates

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Levels of Evidence

Evidence pyramid

Levels of Evidence (LOE) correlate to study/publication types. The pyramid represents LOEs and the sheer size of the related literature.

Authors of a systematic review ask a specific clinical question, perform a comprehensive literature search, eliminate the poorly done studies, and attempt to make practice recommendations based on the well-done studies. A meta-analysis is a systematic review that combines all the results of all the studies into a single statistical analysis of results.

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are the highest level of evidence followed by the randomized controlled trials. There are nearly 8,000 systematic reviews in the Cochrane database and over 40,000 systematic reviews indexed in Medline.

Studies are experimental or observational and can prospective, retrospective, or look at a single point in time.

Different categories of questions are best answered by different research designs.

Therapy RCT preferred, otherwise use a cohort study, case-control study, or case series.

Diagnosis Prospective, blind comparison to a reference standard.

Etiology RCT preferred otherwise use a cohort study, case-control study, or case series.

Prognosis Cohort study preferred otherwise use a case-control study or case series.

Clinical Trials

Phase I trials test an experimental drug or treatment in a small group of people (20-80) for the first time to evaluate its safety, determine a safe dosage range, and identify side effects.

Phase II trials test a larger group of people (100-300) to see if it is effective and to further evaluate its safety.

Phase III trials the experimental study drug or treatment is given to large groups of people (1,000-3,000) to confirm its effectiveness, monitor side effects, compare it to commonly used treatments, and collect information that will allow the experimental drug or treatment to be used safely.

Phase IV trials are post marketing studies to delineate additional information including the drug's risks, benefits, and optimal use.