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Palliative Care: Plan your Search

This guide contains resources and guidance to help students studying Palliative Care.

Why plan your search


At university, you are expected to find and use scholarly information as part of your learning.

This page will show you how to plan your search so you retrieve the best results. 

Step 1: Identify your key concepts


The main ideas (or key concepts) in your assignment question or research topic are your starting point for building a search.


Which cultural safety strategies have most improved quality of life for patients in palliative care?

The key concepts are: 

Cultural safety Quality of Life Palliative Care

If you are working from a scenario, you can also use PICO to break down your question. Check the Evidence-Based Practice guide for more information.

Step 2: Brainstorm keywords & synonyms


Researchers will refer to the same concept using different terms. For example, when researchers are talking about labour, they could also say childbirth or contractions.

Track any terms you can think of in a table like this to include in your search.


Cultural Safety Quality of Life Palliative Care

Cultural safety

Cultural competence

Culturally sensitive

Quality of life



Palliative care

End of life care

Terminal care

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Some resources to help with brainstorming: 

  • Google & Wikipedia
  • Your textbooks
  • Assigned readings and lecture notes

Step 3: Building your search


Use Boolean Operators to combine your search terms. You can build multiple searches using different combinations of synonyms & keywords.

Watch the video below to see how it works.

Step 4: Run your search


Depending on where you are searching, you can put together your search string in two ways:

Single box

e.g. Library catalogue, Google Scholar, ProQuest simple search

("cultural* safe*" OR "cultural* competen*" OR "cultural* sensitiv*") AND "quality of life" AND ("palliative care" OR "terminal care" OR "end of life care")


Multiple boxes

e.g. CINAHL, ProQuest advanced search

"cultural* safe*" OR "cultural* competen*" OR "cultural* sensitiv*"


"quality of life"


"palliative care" OR "terminal care" OR "end of life care"

lightening bolt


  • Wildcards* will find any ending of your term e.g. cultural* will also find culturally
  • If you have a "phrase like this" use double quotation marks to have the search look for the exact phrase

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