The core team were supported by a librarian from Sheffield Hallam University, her input was fundamental to the approach developed below.
Where to search
The first stage was to identify which library databases to search. 11 databases were searched (titles and abstracts) based on their coverage of health or design subject areas, or because of their multidisciplinary coverage. These were:
Art Bibliographies Modern (ProQuest), Art FullText (EBSCO), ASSIA (ProQuest), CINAHL (EBSCO), Cochrane Library (Wiley), Design and Applied Arts Index (DAAI), Health Source Nursing (EBSCO), MEDLINE (EBSCO), PsychINFO (ProQuest), Scopus (Elsevier), Web of Science (Thomson Reuters)
What to search for
We then had to create the search strategy, the words and combinations of words that would most likely deliver the papers we were looking for. An iterative process was undertaken to develop the strategy; search terms were developed around the varying domains of design and innovation in healthcare in consultation with the core team and with respect to seminal key publications in the field. Three strands of the search strategy emerged: (1) design (2) stakeholders (3) outcomes (Figure 1).
Terms relating to design methodologies or theory were phrase search e.g. “experience-based design”, “user-centred”, “person-centred”, “participatory” and their variations.
A range of stakeholders (those who were affected by, or involved in the research) were identified. These included communities, design researchers and practitioners, healthcare professionals and patients.
Terms relating to outcomes—for example: an improvement to health or well being through design, were proximity searched with synonyms for improvement or innovation (e.g. ‘health’ within six words of ‘enhance’).
Where available, controlled vocabulary or MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) were utilised in each database search. See Figure 1 for full list of search terms. An example search string from SCOPUS is included (Figure 3).
Figure 1 - Full list of search terms
|Terms relating to|
|Terms relating to|
|Terms relating to
|Accelerated experience-based codesign|
|Communit*||A proximity search of the following
terms within 6 words of “health*”
|Experience-based design (EBD)|
|Experience-based co-design (EBCD)|
A pilot search was undertaken in SCOPUS (as the largest of the databases to be interrogated) and the findings reviewed by the core team. Some established areas of design methodology were not revealed in the pilot study therefore search terms were refined, added, and excluded to optimise the potential for finding relevant literature.
Certain terms relating to design methodologies were excluded such as communication design, service design, participatory research, and design methodology. It was found that these terms yielded results that were either too general (e.g. design methodology and participatory research are terms used in many research papers), or were yielding results from other disciplines that were irrelevant.
Importantly this did not mean we were excluding papers about these subjects that were otherwise in scope just that the terms did not add to the identification of abstracts. Any results that did appear relevant based on these terms would have been identified through existing search terms.
The cross disciplinary nature of the topic meant that high numbers of search results were likely to be revealed through SCOPUS, yet it was important to attempt to cover all aspects of design methodologies. An initial review of the findings confirmed the term ‘design’ is almost ubiquitous in published literature, therefore it is not useful as a means to discriminate ‘design practice’. In contrast health research has a complex and discrete way of describing practice by clinical specialism and methodology of research to name but two, which makes it more straightforward to narrow down searches to specific areas.