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Public Health

Explore library resources for the Masters in Public Health program at McMaster.

About This Page

The public health resources found in this version of the pre-appraised pyramid of evidence, or the 6S Pyramid contain evidence that will help you answer public health foreground questions [queries that bring together multiple concepts related to a specific situation or research topic].

The 6S pyramid is arranged in a hierarchy, with the different levels outlined and colour-coded.

Use the concepts identified in your PICO or PS Question (found in the Forming Questions tab) to come up with appropriate search terms, remembering:

  • A piece of evidence's ability to guide a decision increases as you move up the pyramid.
  • Topics become more specific as you move down the pyramid.

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Before you can use the evidence...

Critical Appraisal

After finding the evidence, it must be critically appraised. Here are some resources for critically appraising your evidence:

Evidence-Informed Public Health

“The process of finding, appraising, distilling and disseminating the best available evidence, whether from research or actual practice, and using that evidence to inform and improve public health policy and practice.”1

The resources listed on this page are just one piece of Evidence-Informed Public Health. Other types of evidence include 
grey literature, data, statistics, word of mouth and personal experience. 

1. Source: Ciliska D, Chociolko C, Shum M; National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools; National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health. Evidence-informed decision-making in environmental health. Vancouver, BC: National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health; 2010.


Summaries are regularly updated clinical guidelines or textbooks that integrate evidence-based information about specific clinical problems.

Synopses of Syntheses

Synopses of syntheses, summarize the information found in systematic reviews. By drawing conclusions from evidence at lower levels of the pyramid, these synopses often provide sufficient information to support decision-making.


Commonly referred to as a systematic review, a synthesis is a comprehensive summary of all the evidence surrounding a specific research question.    

Synopses of Single Studies

Synopses of single studies summarize evidence from high-quality studies. The following evidence-based abstract journals are the best place to find this type of information:

Single Studies

Studies represent unique research conducted to answer specific clincial questions.

Meta Searches

Meta-Searches search for evidence across multiple resources. These tools return information from all levels of the pyramid: