Objective: The objective is to investigate the effectiveness of evidence-based medicine (EBM) resources in providing evidence for complex clinical questions versus general care management questions to identify situations for their optimal use.
Methods: In this investigation, forty complex clinical questions were randomly selected from an in-house archival database of questions received by librarians during clinical rounds. An additional forty questions were selected from a list of general care management questions received by the library from Pathways teams. To measure the effectiveness of resources in answering the questions, a team of librarians was asked to search UpToDate, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and HealthGate Clinical Guidelines (formerly, EBM Solutions). The team then established consensus on whether a question was fully or partially answered by one of the above-mentioned EBM resources and was instructed to record the instances in which the primary literature needed to be used to answer the question completely.
Results: The study found that the EBM resources completely answered 20.0% of the 40 complex clinical questions and 47.5% of the 40 general care management questions, partially answered 40.0% of the complex clinical questions and 22.5% of the general care management questions, and did not answer 40.0% of the complex clinical questions and 30.0% of the general care management questions.
Conclusion: The pervasive use of EBM resources in answering clinical questions is making it imperative for information specialists to develop an expertise on their appropriate use. By exploring their use in answering complex clinical questions and general care management questions, this paper underlines the strengths and weakness of EBM resources and provides information specialists with some basic knowledge about how these resources can be combined with the primary literature to strengthen their effectiveness.