Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of mlabJournal informationSubscribeSubmissions on the Publisher web siteCurrent issue of BMLA in PMCAlso see JMLA journal in PMC
Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1999 October; 87(4): 471–476.
PMCID: PMC226623

Evaluating medical student searches of MEDLINE for evidence-based information: process and application of results.


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the adequacy of the MEDLINE instruction routinely given to all entering medical students at the University of Miami School of Medicine and the ability of students to search effectively for and retrieve evidence-based information for clinical decision making by the end of their third-year. METHODOLOGY: The authors developed and implemented a strategy for evaluating the search strategies and articles selected by third-year students, who participated in the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) in June 1996, 1997, and 1998, and reviewed the literature on evidence-based medicine and evaluation of medical student searches. RESULTS: A mean of 5% of the students' search strategies and a mean of 26% of articles selected were ranked "excellent" or "good"; a mean of 26% of search strategies were ranked "fair" and a mean of 69% were ranked "poor"; and a mean of 22% of articles selected were ranked "fair" and a mean of 52% were ranked "poor" based on the strategy developed to evaluate student searches. CONCLUSIONS: Evaluating medical student searches for evidence-based information is an effective way of evaluating students' searching proficiency, and, in turn, the adequacy of the instruction they receive. Based on the results of the OSCE test, the school of medicine expanded the library's educational role and the library implemented major changes in the training program. Information on evidence-based medicine is now incorporated into the MEDLINE instruction. Library faculty evaluate the required searches performed by students for evidence-based information during their first and second years; 30% of students are identified for follow-up, individualized instruction based on the evaluation; and a new case-based curriculum has been proposed with a fourteen-week problem-based learning (PBL) block. These developments are timely in light of the evidence-based competencies recently published by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (1.0M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Ytterberg SR, Harris IB, Allen SS, Anderson DC, Kofron PM, Kvasnicka JH, McCord JP, Moller JH. Clinical confidence and skills of medical students: use of an OSCE to enhance confidence in clinical skills. Acad Med. 1998 Oct;73(10 Suppl):S103–S105. [PubMed]
  • Burrows S, Ginn DS, Love N, Williams TL. A strategy for curriculum integration of information skills instruction. Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1989 Jul;77(3):245–251. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Wildemuth BM, Moore ME. End-user search behaviors and their relationship to search effectiveness. Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1995 Jul;83(3):294–304. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Mitchell JA, Johnson ED, Hewett JE, Proud VK. Medical students using Grateful Med: analysis of failed searches and a six-month follow-up study. Comput Biomed Res. 1992 Feb;25(1):43–55. [PubMed]
  • Proud VK, Johnson ED, Mitchell JA. Students online: learning medical genetics. Am J Hum Genet. 1993 Mar;52(3):637–642. [PubMed]
  • Pao ML, Grefsheim SF, Barclay ML, Shipman BL. Student use of MEDLINE: an analysis of the effects of experience and searching knowledge and skills on retrieval in a clinical situation. Proc Annu Symp Comput Appl Med Care. 1992:478–482. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Rosenberg W, Donald A. Evidence based medicine: an approach to clinical problem-solving. BMJ. 1995 Apr 29;310(6987):1122–1126. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Fletcher RH, Fletcher SW. Clinical research in general medical journals: a 30-year perspective. N Engl J Med. 1979 Jul 26;301(4):180–183. [PubMed]
  • Hersh WR, Hickam DH. How well do physicians use electronic information retrieval systems? A framework for investigation and systematic review. JAMA. 1998 Oct 21;280(15):1347–1352. [PubMed]

Articles from Bulletin of the Medical Library Association are provided here courtesy of Medical Library Association