An Occupational Therapy Intern’s experience of conducting a literature search: My 4 Top Tips

blog 1Meet Beth

Hello! My name is Elizabeth (Beth) Crockett and I am international student, originally from Canada, currently completing my Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at Queen Margaret University. Continuing on with the “Occupational Therapy Intern Blog Takeover” this week, I’d like to introduce you to one of the projects I have been working on this summer.

Supporting the ambition of a skilled AHP workforce

As part of the strategic alliance between Queen Margaret University (@QMUUniversity) and Alzheimer Scotland (@alzscot), an Allied Health Profession (AHP) MSc module, co-designed for rights based practice and dementia, ( was launched in 2015/16 by Dr. Fiona Maclean (@MacleanFiona) and Elaine (@elaineahpmh). This module was developed with contributions from both the Scottish Dementia Working Group (@S_D_W_G) and the National Dementia Carers Action Network (@NDCAN_Scotland).

Supporting Families and Carers

To further support the work that has gone into designing this module, and to advance the occupational therapy intern contributions to the strategic objective of NDCAN, I am conducting a literature search, regarding the contribution that occupational therapy CAN have for families, partners and carers of those with dementia. This work will also support the commitments in the newly launched “Scotland’s National Dementia Strategy 2017-2020” ( ), with particular emphasis on Commitment 10: Connecting People, Connecting Support ( and the “Support for Carers” pillar of the Advanced Dementia Practice and 8 Pillar Model of Comprehensive Integrated Support Model.


Conducting my first structured literature search

Although I have learned how to conduct literature searches as part of my MSc in Occupational Therapy education, this is my first attempt at undertaking a structured literature search with rigor for future presentation. As such, I thought it was important to keep track of my reflections and strategies I used so that I can learn from this experience, something that will be invaluable as I move on to writing my MSc dissertation next summer and can also take into any future work as an occupational therapist.

My 4 top tips to conducting a literature search

1. A well-structured search blog 2The first step for me was to review HOW to perform a well structured literature search. For this, I utilized my professional body, the Royal College of Occupational Therapy (@TheRCOT) and found a very useful guide. Members can get access to the resource (search for evidence: literature searching) with the following link:

2. Team workblog 3Enhanced outcomes occur when we are willing to share and collaborate as team. As a future AHP, and as part of the Queen Margaret University and Alzheimer Scotland partnership, I wanted to draw on the experience of my colleagues. One of the first people that I wanted to liaise with was my Occupational Therapy Liaison Librarian at Queen Margaret University, Sheila Williams. Her excellent support and guidance was extremely helpful at the outset of this project. I will also be coordinating with the Research Manager in Public Policy at Alzheimer Scotland (Lindsay Kinnaird) and various other staff and post graduate students at Queen Margaret University (Ian Macmillan, Fiona Maclean, PHD student Niamh Kinsella) to support me in this project.   

3. The importance of a good research question


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After a preliminary scope of the available occupational therapy research, it became clear to me that in order to get the most out of this project, I would need to refine my research question. I then used the PICO framework, which includes elements such as: (Population, Intervention Comparison and Outcome) to guide my thinking and my subsequent searches. We are still in the process of finalizing our research question so stay up to date on this project to see the results.

4. Share the learning

At the end of the summer, I am hoping to have completed my literature search and be able to present my findings in an infographic and conference poster. Sharing the knowledge and literature with our carers group (@NDCAN_Scotland) and the public of how occupational therapists CAN support families and carers in their roles, substantiated by research, is the ultimate goal of this project. A preliminary diagram representing key information I have found thus far is included below:

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Additionally, I also hope to be able to provide essential references and bibliographies to build upon the work of previous interns in their contributions to the AHP MSc module on rights based practice and dementia. If AHPs are interested in finding out more about this module they can contact Fiona (@MacleanFiona) or Elaine (@elaineahpmh).

Reflection questions

As health care professionals, how do you incorporate research and evidence into your practice?

As occupational therapists and allied health professionals, how are you currently supporting families and partners of people living with dementia?

As families, what would you like from occupational therapists and allied health professionals to help you in your role as a family carer?

Keep connected

As always, the team will also be using #OTInterns17 and #AHP Volunteer17 on twitter throughout the summer to share our work.

You can find updates for this project @b_crocks

As well as the rest of the teams work:

Emily : @mcnemilyjane

Nicole : @nicolekane_ot

Lynsey : @lrflanniganot

Instagram @ahpdementia

Facebook AHP Dementia

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One thought on “An Occupational Therapy Intern’s experience of conducting a literature search: My 4 Top Tips

  1. Pingback: Celebrating a summer of growth: reflections from the 2017 Occupational Therapy Interns | Let's Talk about Dementia

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