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Occupational Therapy Subject Guide

A guide to library and information resources for Occcupational Therapy students

Searching beyond Hunter (literature/database searching)

Before you start a literature search it's important to plan what steps you will take. Ask yourself:

Where is the best place to find information for your topic?

  • If you are searching for more general information or looking at the background of a topic, search for books and more using Hunter
  • If you are searching for up-to-date journal articles, use Hunter or a specialist healthcare database. Select the 'databases' tab for more guidance on selecting databases relevant to your subject area

What are the limits of your search?

  • You may want to think about the parameters of your search, such as date, language or geographical scope. Many search tools have features that allow you to refine your search.

Are there any research models you can use?

For more general advice on planning a literature search, select the next tab. You will also find more information in our Literature Searching guideEBSCO and Ovid search guides.

You may also want to refer to our Libguide on Systematic Reviews: finding and managing the evidence for more advanced searching strategies.

It is important that you plan your search in a methodical way to find the most relevant sources of information. If you can, turn your search topic into a research question. This will help you to formulate a specific and targetted search. For example, the topic 'thromobolytic therapy and heart attack' is quite vague. Instead, it could be phrased as:

          How does thrombolytic therapy in A&E improve outcomes for heart attack patients?

From here, you can identify the key concepts in your search and come up with some alternative terms and keywords to search. Use the example table below as a guide. You might want to create your own table in a word document or on a piece of paper.

Write out your essay topic as a question:

How does thrombolytic therapy in A&E improve outcomes for heart attack patients?

Identify the important concepts in your questions and list any alternative terms underneath:


thrombolytic therapy

Alternative terms:


thrombolytic agents

clot busting drugs



Alternative terms:

accident and emergency

emergency department


heart attack

Alternative terms:

myocardial infarction

Searching alternative terms will help you to find more results. Remember that searching is an iterative process and you may want to add or delete search terms after reviewing your results.

As well as using keywords, you can also search for your concepts as subject headings/terms which the video below explains in more detail.

There are three main companies that provide most of the Library's databases, which means that certain databases have the same look and feel

Databases provided by Ebsco include Cinahl, Medline and Amed - see our Ebsco Search Guide for more information

Databases provided by Ovid include PsycInfo and Embase - see our Ovid Search Guide for more information

Databases provided by Proquest include Assia and BNI (British Nursing Index)

Click here for a wider list of recommended databases for occupational therapy and other allied health professions in our Allied Health list

We have lists for a range of other areas that may be relevant such as mental health, evidence based healthcare, grey literature and health management/policy.  All of these lists, including Allied Health, can be selected from the drop down menu on the Library's Databases A-Z page. You can also access a range of anatomy and multimedia resources and recommended websites from this page.

Accessing resources offsite

This video demonstrates how to access SGUL resources when you are offsite.  You need your SGUL username and password. Your SGUL username begins with the letter 'm' followed by a number.

Guides and videos for database searching

You can find advice and demonstrations on searching a range of databases in the Library Canvas module here

These research databases are recommended for occupational therapy:

Cinahl - Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature. Primarily concerned with nursing, but approximately 35% of articles are related to allied health disciplines.

Amed - Allied and Complementary Medicine Database. Bibliographic database produced by British Library. Covers a selection of journals in complementary medicine, palliative care, and several professions allied to medicine.

Medline - From US National Library of Medicine. Covers clinical medicine, including the allied health fields. Includes biological and physical sciences and humanities where they relate to health care.

MAH collection - The MAH Complete collection is a searchable collection of full text journals covering nursing, midwifery, and allied health - with access to over 65,000 articles across over 30 peer-reviewed titles. The collection is made up of several sub-collections: Internurse, Intermid, and Health Professionals.

OTDBASE - onsite access only - OTDBase is a collection of over 10,000 abstracts from 27 key occupational therapy journals starting from 1970. It originates from Canada. Titles indexed include the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, British Journal of Occupational Therapy and Occupational Therapy International.

BNI - Nursing and midwifery database mainly indexing journals published in the UK, plus other English-language journals including international nursing and midwifery journals. Also indexes selective content from medical, allied health and management journals.

Assia - This database is designed to meet the information needs of the caring professions, and spans the literature of health, social services, psychology, sociology, economics, politics, race relations and education. The database abstracts and indexes over 500 journals, from more than 16 countries.

PsycInfo - Compiled by the American Psychological Association. Contains relevant material from medicine, psychiatry, social work, law, criminology, social science and organisational behaviour.

Some resources for systematic reviews/evidence based medicine:

Cochrane Library - Consists of several databases supporting evidence-based medicine, including: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, NHS EED (NHS Economic Evaluation Database) and HTA (Health Technology Assessments).  The Library has developed a Cochrane Library search guide.

OT Seeker - From a team from two Australian universities. A collection of abstracts of systematic reviews and, rated & appraised randomised control trials, relevant to occupational therapy.

Guidelines in practice and other resources:

NICE (Nice Institute for Health and Care Excellence) - Search the NICE website for access to NICE Guidelines, Clinical Knowledge Summaries, and NICE provided resources such as the BNF and BNFC.

Rehabdata - REHABDATA describes over 80,000 documents covering physical, mental, and psychiatric disabilities, independent living, vocational rehabilitation, special education, assistive technology, law, employment, and other issues as they relate to people with disabilities.

Social Care Online - Provided by the Social Care Institute for Excellence. Extensive database of social care information including research briefings, reports, government documents, journal articles, and websites.

King's Fund Library Database - Covers the policy and management of health and social care services - 1979 to present, and King's Fund publications from 1906 onwards.

Literature Searching

The most effective way to search our library subscriptions is to use Hunter. Just enter keywords relating to your topic and select 'Articles and more' from the drop-down menu to get started.

However, if you are carrying out a research project or a literature review, you'll need to use more sophisticated search tools like the ones listed in the selected research databases tab.

Should you need any help articulating a research question, developing a search strategy or using the databases, please check out our Literature searching guide, which provides a useful introduction to the search process.  The Library Canvas module also has a learning unit on How to run a literature search.

Should you need any further assistance, please email the Liaison Team or your Liaison Librarians to arrange a 1:1 appointment via Microsoft Teams.


flag Offsite access

Note: If you're accessing online resources offsite, you will be asked for a username and password. Use the SGUL username and password that you use to access the University computers.

The log in page can look different depending on the supplier of the article, but will usually refer to an 'institutional login'. You will normally need to select your location (e.g. UK Access Management Federation) and then select your 'institution'. Remember to look for 'St George's, University of London'.

This might also be referred to as a 'Shibboleth' login - again, just use your SGUL username and password when prompted.