Evidence-Informed Decision Making in Public Health

Define: Clearly define the question or problem

The first step of the Evidence-Informed Decision Making in Public Health process is to clearly define the question or problem in a searchable and answerable format. This step of the evidence-informed decision making in public health process helps you answer the questions:

“Who is my target group? What is the issue we are dealing with?
What specifically are we trying to change?”

Use four elements to frame a question about the effectiveness of a public health intervention:

  • Population
  • Intervention
  • Comparison
  • Outcome

Outlining the search terms using the PICO format helps you develop a focused search strategy for locating the best available research evidence.

Different types of questions call for different types of research methods. For example, qualitative questions should identify:

  • Population
  • Situation

For information about clearly defining a question using the PICO format please review the "Define" section of the Introduction to Evidence-Informed Decision Making module.

To learn more about the different types of questions relevant to public health and related research designs, check out our online module entitled Quantitative Research Designs 101: Addressing Practice-Based Issues in Public Health. All our online modules are housed in the National Collaborating Centre of Methods and Tools’ Learning Centre.

EIPH Wheel - DefineSearch Appraise Synthesize Adapt Implement Evaluate

Clearly define the question or problem.

We recommend these resources from the Registry of Methods and Tools to help with this step:

Defining your question: PICO and PS