Getting Started

OUTBREAKHELP is an easily searchable, online platform for sharing information and resources gathered from around the world on Ebola prevention, management and control. It also promotes discussion among health and allied professionals to facilitate the active exchange of that knowledge.

Find out more information below about the following topics:

  • What are Evidence Briefs? What are Executive Summaries?
  • Resources and Other Articles
  • Searching
  • Our Search Strategy: Unpublished Literature
  • Our Search Strategy: Published Literature
McMaster University


Evidence Briefs provide a synthesis of the best available evidence on a variety of priority topic areas as identified by leading infectious disease experts. We systematically explore the published literature using a comprehensive search strategy to identify relevant research on infection prevention, management and control. For more information on our search strategy of the published literature, see sections below on our search strategies.

Executive Summaries are concise summaries that highlight the key messages from priority guidance resources on the OutbreakHelp website. Project team members at the NCCMT write these summaries to provide a quick snapshot of the main action messages in a particular resource. The summaries are tagged according to major topic headings related to infection prevention, management and control to help you quickly identify information relevant to you.



What will I find in Resources and other Articles?

A comprehensive and systematic search for published literature, as well as grey literature and other resources, was conducted. These information sources can be filtered by resource type (books, websites, articles, news, guidance, multimedia tools and implementation tools) or by subject category.

What are the different types of Resources and other Articles?

Implementation tools include resources that may be helpful in your workplace setting such as algorithms, checklists, forms, FAQs and posters. Multimedia tools include videos, apps, webinars, workshops and audio recordings.

What is OUTBREAKHELP's STAR Rating System?

OUTBREAKHELP uses a suite of abbreviated critical appraisal tools to assess the quality of articles included on the website. These tools have been abbreviated to focus specifically on questions related to the methodological quality of included articles. A total of eight critical appraisal tools have been identified to ensure the variety of different study types are appraised using the appropriate critical appraisal tool. A list of the original tools can be found below:

Each article is appraised by two independent raters and conflicts resolved through discussion. If consensus cannot be reached, a third party is consulted.

The STAR rating for each article has been developed by dividing the overall score of each article by the number of applicable questions in the tool; this number is multiplied to place the rating on a 5-point scale. Each score is then attributed to a star rating based on the following scheme:

0 stars0-0.2
0.5 stars0.3-0.7
1 star0.8-1.2
1.5 stars1.3-1.7
2 stars1.8-2.2
3 stars2.8-3.2
3.5 stars3.3-3.7
4 stars3.8-4.2
4.5 stars4.3-4.7
5 stars4.8-5

Articles with a rating of 3+ stars are considered ‘higher’ quality studies and prioritized for synthesis in our Evidence Briefs.   

What is the 'level of assessment' in the resources section?

A level of evidence assessment is conducted for each article and resource where an appropriate critical appraisal tool has not been identified. The aim of this assessment is to allow the user to see at a glance what types of evidence is included in these articles and resources (i.e. whether or not they have been informed by single studies, randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews, and/or best practice guidelines). A statement is also attached to each article/resource to identify if the quality of the evidence utilized in the article/resource has been considered.  

Each article/resource is appraised by two independent raters and conflicts resolved through discussion. If consensus cannot be reached, a third party is consulted.

The overall goal of this assessment is to encourage users to consider the type and quality of the evidence that is used in these articles and resources in order to support evidence-informed decision making in everyday practice.



What search terms to I use?

The OUTBREAKHELP search bar works a lot like popular search engines that use an AND/OR/NOT function. When looking for a specific resource, article or knowledge product, it is often helpful to start with a fairly broad search, using general terms such as "personal protective equipment" or "cleaning." If you find that your broad search returns too many articles, you can refine your search by including more specific terms such as "cleaning AND personal protective equipment." The OutbreakHelp search bar also allows you to refine your search using our custom filters, which are located directly under the search bar. Simply select the categories and subcategories you are interested in from the dropdown menus. The filter function allows you to select as many categories as you wish from any of the different filters provided. You can also view and edit your active filters on the side of the screen under the Summary section, or clear your results set and start your search again.

If you are finding that you have too few results, it may be that your search terms were too narrow or there were too many of them. Try broadening your search terms and then narrow your results set with the topic, professions, jurisdiction or resource type filters.

How are search results presented?

A search will yield all results for each of Evidence Briefs, Forums and Resources and other Articles.

Additionally, Resources and other Articles can be searched specifically by subject category or resource type from Resources page.


We systematically search the unpublished literature using a comprehensive approach to identify relevant resources on infection prevention, management and control of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) for allied and health professionals. This search protocol is guided by key facets of EVD information thought to be most frequently sought or requested by community organizations, health care facilities and partner agencies. 

The following key professionals were identified as part of the target audience:

  • Outpatient and ambulatory care professionals
  • Dental care professionals
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals
  • Environmental cleaning professionals
  • Firefighters
  • Funeral home professionals
  • Health care professionals
  • Home and community care professionals
  • Laboratory professionals
  • Pharmacy professionals
  • Police
  • Public health professionals
  • Social work professionals
  • Waste management professionals
  • Airplane and airport personnel

Searches for new content are conducted on an ongoing basis to ensure new resources are identified. As our search is an iterative process, we welcome suggestions for content and sources that may not be included in the lists below. Please contact to submit any suggestions or requests. We thank you for your input.

Inclusion Criteria

Resources are identified as relevant and added to the website if they include information on EVD that is relevant to the target audience. The following key facets are used to guide the searching of relevant resources:

  • Diagnosis and management
    • Assessment of individuals exposed to EVD
    • Clinical management of patients
    • Lab testing, collection and transport
    • Public health case management
  • Disease information
    • Incubation period
    • Mode of transmission
    • Period of communicability
    • Reservoir of infection
    • Risk of exposure
    • Signs and symptoms
  • Emergency management
  • Environmental cleaning
    • Setting: airlines
    • Setting: ambulances
    • Setting: community
    • Setting: health care
  • Infection prevention and control measures
    • Administrative and environmental controls
    • Cleaning, disinfection and sterilization of medical equipment
    • Hand hygiene
    • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Occupational health
  • Post-mortem care
  • Prevention
    • Travellers to affected areas
    • Vaccine trials
  • Psychosocial considerations
  • Surveillance and monitoring
    • Epidemiological information
    • Identification and monitoring of contacts to EVD
    • Identification and monitoring of returned travellers
  • Transportation
    • Patient transport
  • Waste management

    Sources: Identification and Searching

    Relevant websites are systematically searched for all information pertaining to EVD. Websites are identified by exploring resources from government and non-government organizations, as well as searching relevant repositories of health information. Websites included in the search range from national, provincial and territorial Canadian organizations and agencies, to international organizations. This ensures the collection of a wide range of information that can be applied to a variety of North American locations and contexts.



We systematically explore the published literature using a comprehensive electronic search strategy to identify relevant research on infection prevention, management and control of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). A librarian with extensive public health experience developed a comprehensive search strategy.

Due to the emerging nature of EVD, a mix of natural language terms and subject headings are used to capture the different facets of the literature around preventing, planning, controlling and managing an outbreak. We also include additional search terms to identify patient care. The mix of natural language terms and subject headings allows for the identification of both in-process and indexed literature. 

No search limits, filters or hedges are placed on the search strategy, and all articles are screened by two members of the OutbreakHelp research team. All disagreements are resolved through discussion; a third party is consulted if consensus cannot be reached.

The following five databases are searched:

  • Global Health

All databases have been searched since inception, and we continue to perform monthly searches to keep our resource section up to date. 

A selection of terms used to perform the search is provided below. Please note that these are not complete search strategies. For a full version,

General search terms:


Hemorrhagic fever

Disease outbreaks or transmission

Communicable disease control

Cross infection


Infection control


Patient isolation

Protective clothing or devices


Population surveillance


Contact tracing

Case management


Immunization or vaccination



Disaster or emergency

Staff education or professional development

Health care personnel terms, including nursing and medical staff, and expanded to include emergency responders, military personnel


Patient care search terms:

Patient care management

Patient care

Prognosis, diagnosis or mortality

Gastrointestinal tract

Terms indicating organs of the gastrointestinal tract, e.g. liver, spleen, kidney, pancreas

Renal replacement therapy

Renal, hepatic or respiratory insufficiency

Liver transplantation

Symptoms terms, including fever, muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain

Clinical protocol

Combined modality therapy

Drug therapy

Emergency treatment

Feeding methods

Nutrition therapy

Water-electrolyte imbalance

Water-electrolyte balance

Fluid therapy

Real-time polymerase chain reaction


Anti-infective agents

Hemorrhag$ or haemorrhag$

Fluid or dehydrat$ or rehydrate$ or hydrat$ or electrolyte or parenteral or appetite or oral or intravenous