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Athletic Training

This guide will support athletic training students from their first year through their senior year; containing links to relevant library resources and examples of evidence based practice.

Advanced Research

As you progress through the Athletic Training Program you will learn about Evidence Based Research/Practice. Evidence Based Research is the expectation that as a professional you are able to locate, evaluate, and implement the best information when making treatment/prevention/diagnosis decisions. This guide will include tips and strategies that will help you discover the best resources for your research question.


  • PICO is a framework for building an evidence based search. 
    • Population: the group you are interested in
    • Intervention: What treatment/therapy 
    • Comparison: Are there multiple options for the treatment. Often this will be the standard treatment and the Intervention will be a newer option.
    • Outcome: What are you measuring to see if your intervention worked with your population.

For example: If you one of your athletes was coming back from a sprained ankle and asked you if taping their ankle would help prevent future sprained ankles. Your PICO would look like this

P: Soccer Players recovering from sprained ankle (in some cases the gender and/or age range may make a difference. You can start specific and move to a broader search if you do not find a lot of results)

I: Taping 

C: None (In this case you are comparing taping to doing nothing at all)

O: Reduced occurrence of subsequent sprained ankles

Hierarchy of Research

Evidence based research places provides guidance for deciding which types of studies you should use. The preference is always for systematic reviews and meta analysis, followed by randomized control trials. See the table below for additional study types.


The above image is based on the EBM Page Generator (2006) from Dartmouth College and Yale University and the Coursera MOOC “Understanding Clinical Research: Behind the Statistics“ (2016). Located at


CAT Resources

This guide will provide links to resources on Critically Appraised Topics (CAT).

Subject Keywords

Most research databases use a controlled vocabulary where they assign subject keywords to each article, which makes it easier to discover relevant resources. Unfortunately the terminology for the subject keywords is not standard. Below is a listing of how the databases you will encounter most often label their subject listings.

  • PubMed: uses MeSH. Pubmed will automatically map terms to mesh. You can also click the part of the search bar that says PubMed and change it to MeSH to search their catalog of terms.
  • CINAHL: They also use MeSH terms, but because it is hosted through a different platform you need to look at the top of the screen for CINAHL Headings if you want to search for specific terms
  • SPORTDiscus: Hosted on Ebsco, and uses the term Thesaurus, located at the top left of the page.
  • Cochrane Library: Uses MeSH as well. You can find if by clicking on Advanced search and then clicking the Medical Terms (MeSH) tab.
  • Web of Science and Google Scholar do not have a controlled vocabulary because they index too much information
  • PEDro: Also does not use a controlled vocabulary because they are a free resource and do not have the resources needed to implement a controlled vocabulary.

Peer Review

Peer review is a process where authors submit their articles for review by experts in the field. The reviewers evaluate the submitted articles for quality of study design, appropriateness of statistical analysis, and value of the conclusions drawn from the study. This process is not infallible, but does help maintain a higher standard of accountability. Many databases offer an option to filter for peer reviewed articles.

Additional Resources