Asking clinical questions
Queries from patients and healthcare professionals generate questions that require specific, accurate, and reliable answers in order to provide the most beneficial forms of care. Queries related to healthcare are likely to arise every day in relation to:
- Patients receiving care
- Clinicians providing care
- Managers evaluating or reviewing healthcare services
Straus et al. (2005) suggest that there are ‘background’ and ‘foreground’ queries  . Background queries might be concerned with information such as the physiology or prevalence of a condition and are relatively easy to answer through a single source of information. An example of a background query could be ‘How does blood clotting occur in the body?’, or ‘What is the prevalence of pulmonary tuberculosis in Australia’?
‘Foreground’ queries emerge in relation to aspects of care, treatment options, and possible outcomes in relation to specific patients or situations. These types of questions are less likely to have one simple, ‘black or white’ answer, and may require a comprehensive search for the most recent evidence.
Examples of these types of queries are shown below. Click each question for clinical examples.