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1.  Quality filtering of the clinical literature by librarians and physicians. 
A study was conducted at the University of Pittsburgh to determine the effectiveness of the selection process by clinical medical librarians and to identify the criteria used by librarians and physicians to select relevant articles. The study analyzed the similarity between librarian and physician selections, the decision-making processes used by librarians and physicians, and the utility of librarian selections versus those of physicians. No significant difference in utility between librarian and physician selection was found, suggesting that librarians can recognize and select useful articles as effectively as physicians. Both librarians and physicians based selection decisions primarily on article title, abstract, and journal title. Librarians were more likely to focus on Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) descriptors, while physicians focused on clinical applicability or similarity to a specific case. Journal selection data indicate that the principle internal medicine journals were the most frequently selected sources. The study demonstrates that librarians can effectively serve a quality filtering function in the clinical environment, and they should consider extending quality filtering activities to other arenas.
PMCID: PMC225726  PMID: 8428187
2.  The evolving role of the librarian in evidence-based medicine. 
Librarians' participation in evidence-based medicine (EBM) is rooted in past practices, most notably in clinical medical librarianship. EBM extends the librarians' role beyond identification of the literature to involvement in practicing and teaching quality filtering and critical appraisal of the literature. These activities require librarians to acquire new knowledge and develop new skills. A professional development program for librarians at the Library of the Health Sciences (LHS) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is described. The program's goals are to increase librarians' skills and support the EBM curricular initiative at the UIC College of Medicine (COM). The unique program has been a collaborative effort of the LHS and the COM. The locally developed classes provide librarians with instruction in clinical study designs, statistical concepts, and critical appraisal of the literature. Other interventions such as an EBM round table are also described. The programs' success is measured by librarians' growing involvement in EBM medical curricula, journal clubs, and morning reports. Additionally, librarians gained competence in new skills and professional satisfaction from working collegially with COM students, residents, and faculty.
PMCID: PMC226592  PMID: 10427434
3.  The role of expert searching in the Family Physicians' Inquiries Network (FPIN)* 
Objective: This article describes the contributions of medical librarians, as members of the Family Physicians' Inquiries Network (FPIN), to the creation of a database of clinical questions and answers that allows family physicians to practice evidence-based medicine using high-quality information at the point of care. The medical librarians have contributed their evidence-based search expertise and knowledge of information systems that support the processes and output of the consortium.
Methods: Since its inception, librarians have been included as valued members of the FPIN community. FPIN recognizes the search expertise of librarians, and each FPIN librarian must meet qualifications demonstrating appropriate experience and training in evidence-based medicine. The consortium works collaboratively to produce the Clinical Inquiries series published in family medicine publications.
Results: Over 170 Clinical Inquiries have appeared in Journal of Family Practice (JFP) and American Family Physician (AFP). Surveys have shown that this series has become the most widely read part of the JFP Website. As a result, FPIN has formalized specific librarian roles that have helped build the organizational infrastructure.
Conclusions: All of the activities of the consortium are highly collaborative, and the librarian community reflects that. The FPIN librarians are valuable and equal contributors to the process of creating, updating, and maintaining high-quality clinical information for practicing primary care physicians. Of particular value is the skill of expert searching that the librarians bring to FPIN's products.
PMCID: PMC545127  PMID: 15685280
4.  How do primary care physicians seek answers to clinical questions? A literature review  
Objectives: The authors investigated the extent to which changes occurred between 1992 and 2005 in the ways that primary care physicians seek answers to clinical problems. What search strategies are used? How much time is spent on them? How do primary care physicians evaluate various search activities and information sources? Can a clinical librarian be useful to a primary care physician?
Methods: Twenty-one original research papers and three literature reviews were examined. No systematic reviews were identified.
Results: Primary care physicians seek answers to only a limited number of questions about which they first consult colleagues and paper sources. This practice has basically not changed over the years despite the enormous increase in and better accessibility to electronic information sources. One of the major obstacles is the time it takes to search for information. Other difficulties primary care physicians experience are related to formulating an appropriate search question, finding an optimal search strategy, and interpreting the evidence found. Some studies have been done on the supporting role of a clinical librarian in general practice. However, the effects on professional behavior of the primary care physician and on patient outcome have not been studied. A small group of primary care physicians prefer this support to developing their own search skills.
Discussion: Primary care physicians have several options for finding quick answers: building a question-and-answer database, consulting filtered information sources, or using an intermediary such as a clinical librarian.
PMCID: PMC1324772  PMID: 16404470
5.  New activities and changing roles of health sciences librarians: a systematic review, 1990–2012 
The paper identifies and documents new health sciences librarian activities and roles during the period from 1990–2012.
A systematic review of the literature was conducted using MEDLINE, Library and Information Abstracts, Library Literature, Scopus, and Web of Science. To find new roles that might not yet have been described in the literature, job announcements published in the Medical Library Association email discussion list archives from 2008–2012 were searched. For inclusion, an article needed to contain a substantive description of a new role and/or activity performed by librarians and be in the field of medical or health sciences librarianship. Papers that did not describe an actual (rather than proposed) librarian role were excluded.
New roles identified through the literature search were: embedded librarians (such as clinical informationist, bioinformationist, public health informationist, disaster information specialist); systematic review librarian; emerging technologies librarian; continuing medical education librarian; grants development librarian; and data management librarian. New roles identified through job announcements were digital librarian, metadata librarian, scholarly communication librarian, and translational research librarian. New twists to old roles were also identified: clinical medical librarian, instruction librarian, outreach librarian, and consumer health librarian.
While the main purposes of health sciences librarianship remain the same, the new roles represent major new activities so that, for many librarians, daily on-the-job work is completely different.
This list of new activities should inform students contemplating medical librarianship careers, guide formal and continuing education programs, and encourage other librarians to consider these new services.
PMCID: PMC3794682  PMID: 24163598
6.  Information from Pharmaceutical Companies and the Quality, Quantity, and Cost of Physicians' Prescribing: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(10):e1000352.
Geoff Spurling and colleagues report findings of a systematic review looking at the relationship between exposure to promotional material from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of prescribing. They fail to find evidence of improvements in prescribing after exposure, and find some evidence of an association with higher prescribing frequency, higher costs, or lower prescribing quality.
Pharmaceutical companies spent $57.5 billion on pharmaceutical promotion in the United States in 2004. The industry claims that promotion provides scientific and educational information to physicians. While some evidence indicates that promotion may adversely influence prescribing, physicians hold a wide range of views about pharmaceutical promotion. The objective of this review is to examine the relationship between exposure to information from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of physicians' prescribing.
Methods and Findings
We searched for studies of physicians with prescribing rights who were exposed to information from pharmaceutical companies (promotional or otherwise). Exposures included pharmaceutical sales representative visits, journal advertisements, attendance at pharmaceutical sponsored meetings, mailed information, prescribing software, and participation in sponsored clinical trials. The outcomes measured were quality, quantity, and cost of physicians' prescribing. We searched Medline (1966 to February 2008), International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (1970 to February 2008), Embase (1997 to February 2008), Current Contents (2001 to 2008), and Central (The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2007) using the search terms developed with an expert librarian. Additionally, we reviewed reference lists and contacted experts and pharmaceutical companies for information. Randomized and observational studies evaluating information from pharmaceutical companies and measures of physicians' prescribing were independently appraised for methodological quality by two authors. Studies were excluded where insufficient study information precluded appraisal. The full text of 255 articles was retrieved from electronic databases (7,185 studies) and other sources (138 studies). Articles were then excluded because they did not fulfil inclusion criteria (179) or quality appraisal criteria (18), leaving 58 included studies with 87 distinct analyses. Data were extracted independently by two authors and a narrative synthesis performed following the MOOSE guidelines. Of the set of studies examining prescribing quality outcomes, five found associations between exposure to pharmaceutical company information and lower quality prescribing, four did not detect an association, and one found associations with lower and higher quality prescribing. 38 included studies found associations between exposure and higher frequency of prescribing and 13 did not detect an association. Five included studies found evidence for association with higher costs, four found no association, and one found an association with lower costs. The narrative synthesis finding of variable results was supported by a meta-analysis of studies of prescribing frequency that found significant heterogeneity. The observational nature of most included studies is the main limitation of this review.
With rare exceptions, studies of exposure to information provided directly by pharmaceutical companies have found associations with higher prescribing frequency, higher costs, or lower prescribing quality or have not found significant associations. We did not find evidence of net improvements in prescribing, but the available literature does not exclude the possibility that prescribing may sometimes be improved. Still, we recommend that practitioners follow the precautionary principle and thus avoid exposure to information from pharmaceutical companies.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
A prescription drug is a medication that can be supplied only with a written instruction (“prescription”) from a physician or other licensed healthcare professional. In 2009, 3.9 billion drug prescriptions were dispensed in the US alone and US pharmaceutical companies made US$300 billion in sales revenue. Every year, a large proportion of this revenue is spent on drug promotion. In 2004, for example, a quarter of US drug revenue was spent on pharmaceutical promotion. The pharmaceutical industry claims that drug promotion—visits from pharmaceutical sales representatives, advertisements in journals and prescribing software, sponsorship of meetings, mailed information—helps to inform and educate healthcare professionals about the risks and benefits of their products and thereby ensures that patients receive the best possible care. Physicians, however, hold a wide range of views about pharmaceutical promotion. Some see it as a useful and convenient source of information. Others deny that they are influenced by pharmaceutical company promotion but claim that it influences other physicians. Meanwhile, several professional organizations have called for tighter control of promotional activities because of fears that pharmaceutical promotion might encourage physicians to prescribe inappropriate or needlessly expensive drugs.
Why Was This Study Done?
But is there any evidence that pharmaceutical promotion adversely influences prescribing? Reviews of the research literature undertaken in 2000 and 2005 provide some evidence that drug promotion influences prescribing behavior. However, these reviews only partly assessed the relationship between information from pharmaceutical companies and prescribing costs and quality and are now out of date. In this study, therefore, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) to reexamine the relationship between exposure to information from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of physicians' prescribing.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched the literature for studies of licensed physicians who were exposed to promotional and other information from pharmaceutical companies. They identified 58 studies that included a measure of exposure to any type of information directly provided by pharmaceutical companies and a measure of physicians' prescribing behavior. They then undertook a “narrative synthesis,” a descriptive analysis of the data in these studies. Ten of the studies, they report, examined the relationship between exposure to pharmaceutical company information and prescribing quality (as judged, for example, by physician drug choices in response to clinical vignettes). All but one of these studies suggested that exposure to drug company information was associated with lower prescribing quality or no association was detected. In the 51 studies that examined the relationship between exposure to drug company information and prescribing frequency, exposure to information was associated with more frequent prescribing or no association was detected. Thus, for example, 17 out of 29 studies of the effect of pharmaceutical sales representatives' visits found an association between visits and increased prescribing; none found an association with less frequent prescribing. Finally, eight studies examined the relationship between exposure to pharmaceutical company information and prescribing costs. With one exception, these studies indicated that exposure to information was associated with a higher cost of prescribing or no association was detected. So, for example, one study found that physicians with low prescribing costs were more likely to have rarely or never read promotional mail or journal advertisements from pharmaceutical companies than physicians with high prescribing costs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
With rare exceptions, these findings suggest that exposure to pharmaceutical company information is associated with either no effect on physicians' prescribing behavior or with adverse affects (reduced quality, increased frequency, or increased costs). Because most of the studies included in the review were observational studies—the physicians in the studies were not randomly selected to receive or not receive drug company information—it is not possible to conclude that exposure to information actually causes any changes in physician behavior. Furthermore, although these findings provide no evidence for any net improvement in prescribing after exposure to pharmaceutical company information, the researchers note that it would be wrong to conclude that improvements do not sometimes happen. The findings support the case for reforms to reduce negative influence to prescribing from pharmaceutical promotion.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Wikipedia has pages on prescription drugs and on pharmaceutical marketing (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The UK General Medical Council provides guidelines on good practice in prescribing medicines
The US Food and Drug Administration provides information on prescription drugs and on its Bad Ad Program
Healthy Skepticism is an international nonprofit membership association that aims to improve health by reducing harm from misleading health information
The Drug Promotion Database was developed by the World Health Organization Department of Essential Drugs & Medicines Policy and Health Action International Europe to address unethical and inappropriate drug promotion
PMCID: PMC2957394  PMID: 20976098
7.  Preselecting literature for routine delivery to physicians in a community hospital-based patient care related reading program. 
Health sciences librarians have been actively responding to the changing information needs of users by extending services which involve the selection of literature in response to specific requests from health care personnel. A further development is Patient Care Related Reading (PCRR), a hospital-based program of continuing medical education in which the librarian actively participates in the preselection, packaging, and routine delivery of literature for use by physicians caring for patients with certain clinical disorders. Criteria for selection of literature packet topics were developed jointly by librarians and physicians at their own hospitals. Librarians compiled bibliographic material, reviewed articles, and prepared preliminary packets. Physicians reviewed these packets and made suggestions for each article. Librarians then prepared final packets following reviewers' recommendations and distributed them as a routine procedure to all physicians caring for patients with a diagnosis corresponding to prepared topics. Librarians were notified of patients with PCRR clinical problems by admitting office personnel, floor nurses, nursing supervisors, utilization review, and Professional Standards Review Organization personnel as a part of their usual activities. Packets are used by physicians to add to their fund of knowledge, and for review and teaching purposes. PCRR has provided increased visibility of the library and its many services. Recognition of the librarian's role in the program reinforces the concept of the community hospital library as a service-oriented entity, and helps to establish the library as an active partner in the development and implementation of hospital-based continuing education programs.
PMCID: PMC226795  PMID: 7225658
8.  From both sides now: librarians' experiences at the Rocky Mountain Evidence-Based Health Care Workshop 
The Colorado Health Outcomes (COHO) Department of the School of Medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (UCHSC) coordinates the Rocky Mountain Evidence-Based Health Care (EBHC) Workshop, which has been held annually since 1999. The goals of the workshop include helping participants—physicians, pharmacists, health care policy makers, journalists and librarians—learn and apply skills for critically appraising medical research literature and for effective use of evidence-based information resources. Participants are encouraged to share ideas and to plan local services and instruction for those working in clinical settings. Each year, librarians from UCHSC Denison Memorial Library participate as faculty by teaching searching skills (PubMed, Cochrane Library, ACP Journal Club, etc.), providing support to small groups, and staffing two computer labs. In 2002, Denison Library received a National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) MidContinental Region Impact Award to fund the attendance of three health sciences librarians from the MidContinental Region, an academic education librarian, a clinical medical librarian, and a department librarian. In this paper, the participating librarians share the lessons they learned about how health care practitioners approach evidence-based practice. The participating librarians also share how they incorporated these lessons into their support of evidence-based practice related to teaching about evidence-based resources, assisting health care practitioners with developing answerable questions, enhancing the clinician-librarian partnership, and assisting practitioners in selecting evidence-based resources for quick answers to clinical questions.
PMCID: PMC314105  PMID: 14762465
9.  Vital pathways for hospital librarians: present and future roles 
The research objectives were to (1) describe the current and future roles of hospital librarians and the challenges they face and (2) find evidence supporting the hypothesis that librarians are essential to hospitals in achieving the organizations' mission-critical goals.
The authors used results from a previous research study that identified the five organizational mission-critical goals important to hospital administrators and then searched the literature and solicited examples from hospital librarians to describe the librarian's role in helping hospitals achieve these goals.
The literature supports the hypothesis that hospital librarians play important roles in the success of the hospital. Librarians support quality clinical care, efficient and effective hospital operations, continuing education for staff, research and innovation, and patient, family, and community health information needs.
Hospital librarians fulfill many mission-critical roles in today's hospital, providing the right information at the right time in a variety of ways to enhance hospital and medical staff effectiveness, optimize patient care, improve patient outcomes, and increase patient and family satisfaction with the hospital and its services. Because hospital librarians and their services provide an excellent return on investment for the hospital and help the hospital keep its competitive edge, hospital staff should have access to the services of a professional librarian.
PMCID: PMC2759170  PMID: 19851493
10.  The role of the medical school-based consumer health information service. 
Historically, medical information has been provided to patients at the physician's discretion. Although this method never has been wholly satisfactory, the trend toward bureaucratic organization of medical care, characterized by impersonal patient encounters and prompted by increased emphasis on cost controls, has restricted patient information even further. Yet, at the same time, the upsurge in consumer power has created patient demand for more health information. Consumers feel they have a right to expect help in obtaining information so they can make informed decisions with respect to their medical care. This paper focuses on the medical school-based consumer health service in this context. In particular, it calls attention to the medical school library as the foundation for expanded health information resources, pointing to the tools of information retrieval, as well as the substantive information contained in the medical, nursing, and allied health literature. In this setting, the consumer health librarian is called upon to act as a mediator in providing quality-filtered information to the patron, while at the same time remaining within the confines of professional expertise as a librarian. Important sources of health information are highlighted, particularly online databases, drug indexes, therapeutic texts, and physician specialist directories.
PMCID: PMC225859  PMID: 8136760
11.  New measures for new roles: defining and measuring the current practices of health sciences librarians 
The roles of academic health sciences librarians are continually evolving as librarians initiate new programs and services in response to developments in computer technology and user demands. However, statistics currently collected by libraries do not accurately reflect or measure these new roles. It is essential for librarians to document, measure, and evaluate these new activities to continue to meet the needs of users and to ensure the viability of their professional role. To determine what new measures should be compiled, the authors examined current statistics, user demands, professional literature, and current activities of librarians as reported in abstracts of poster sessions at Medical Library Association annual meetings. Three new categories of services to be measured are proposed. The first, consultation, groups activities such as quality filtering and individual point-of-need instruction. The second, outreach, includes activities such as working as liaisons, participating in grand rounds or morning report, and providing continuing education. The third area, Web authoring, encompasses activities such as designing Web pages, creating online tutorials, and developing new products. Adding these three measures to those already being collected will provide a more accurate and complete depiction of the services offered by academic health sciences librarians.
PMCID: PMC100761  PMID: 11999174
12.  Research on the value of medical library services: does it make an impact in the health care literature?* 
Objective: To evaluate the impact in the health care literature of research articles that provided evidence of the value of library services (including MEDLINE) as an element of quality health care.
Data Sources/Selection: Four research articles on the relationship between use of library services and quality health care were selected as “primary articles” from a MEDLINE search using appropriate Medical Subject Heading. Primary articles met the following criteria: written in English, reported research, related to clinical care, and published before 1995.
Data Extraction: The technique of citation analysis was used to measure the impact of the primary articles on the subsequent literature. The number, authorship, type, and publication venue of articles citing the primary articles were determined using ISI Web of Science, MEDLINE, other electronic resources, and the citing articles themselves. For the 146 English-language citing articles, the article type (i.e., advocacy, instructional, research) was noted; and, for those that reported research, the use to which the author put the cited material was determined.
Results: The primary articles were cited more often than the average articles published that year in the same journals. At the time of the study each article had been cited almost every year since publication. Of the 146 citing articles written in English, 43% were written by librarians, 38% by physicians, 12% by librarians with physicians. The majority were published in medical journals, followed in order of decreasing frequency by the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, information science journals, and health administration journals.
Conclusions: The results of this study demonstrate that published research on the value of medical library services has an impact on the literature. These articles are read and cited and continue to be of value.
PMCID: PMC314101  PMID: 14762461
13.  A study to enhance clinical end-user MEDLINE search skills: design and baseline findings. 
OBJECTIVE: To determine if a preceptor and timely, individualized feedback improves the performance of physicians in searching MEDLINE using GRATEFUL MED in clinical settings. DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial. SETTING: A 300 bed primary to tertiary care teaching hospital. Computers were installed in wards and clinics of 6 major clinical services, and the emergency room, intensive care and neonatal intensive care units. SUBJECTS: All physicians and physicians-in-training from the departments of Medicine, Family Medicine, Surgery, Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Obstetrics and Gynecology were included if they made patient care decisions for at least 8 weeks during the study period. INTERVENTION: All participants were given a 1-hour training class and 1 hour of individualized searching with 1 of the 2 study librarians. After training, participants were randomized to a control group who received no further intervention or to an intervention group in which each person chose a clinical preceptor experienced in MEDLINE searching and received individualized feedback by a study librarian on their first 10 searches, indicating search quality and providing suggestions for improvement. Feedback was mailed the first week day after the search was done. MAIN MEASURES: Baseline characteristics by study group, department and level of training, study participation rates, and searching rates. MAIN RESULTS: 308 of 392 eligible physicians joined the study. Participation was almost 80% with some variation by department and level of training. Excellent balance in the baseline characteristics was achieved for the 2 groups, as well as for the number who did first searches. Intervention group participants searched MEDLINE more often than did controls (3.5 searches per month vs 2.5 per month for controls, P = 0.046). The recall and precision for first searches for both groups was significantly less than that of librarians. The analysis of study data will be completed by September 1991. CONCLUSIONS: Clinicians are willing to do self-service searching of MEDLINE in clinical settings but their precision and recall are less than a trained librarian at baseline. Search skills enhancements are needed and the effect of feedback and preceptors is being tested. SOURCE OF FUNDING: U.S. National Library of Medicine and Ontario Ministry of Health.
PMCID: PMC2247498  PMID: 1807700
14.  So many filters, so little time: the development of a search filter appraisal checklist 
The authors developed a tool to assess the quality of search filters designed to retrieve records for studies with specific research designs (e.g., diagnostic studies).
The UK InterTASC Information Specialists' Sub-Group (ISSG), a group of experienced health care information specialists, reviewed the literature to evaluate existing search filter appraisal tools and determined that existing tools were inadequate for their needs. The group held consensus meetings to develop a new filter appraisal tool consisting of a search filter appraisal checklist and a structured abstract. ISSG members tested the final checklist using three published search filters.
The detailed ISSG Search Filter Appraisal Checklist captures relevance criteria and methods used to develop and test search filters. The checklist includes categorical and descriptive responses and is accompanied by a structured abstract that provides a summary of key quality features of a filter.
The checklist is a comprehensive appraisal tool that can assist health sciences librarians and others in choosing search filters. The checklist reports filter design methods and search performance measures, such as sensitivity and precision. The checklist can also aid filter developers by indicating information on core methods that should be reported to help assess filter suitability. The generalizability of the checklist for non-methods filters remains to be explored.
PMCID: PMC2568852  PMID: 18974813
15.  Building a gold standard to construct search filters: a case study with biomarkers for oral cancer*† 
To support clinical researchers, librarians and informationists may need search filters for particular tasks. Development of filters typically depends on a “gold standard” dataset. This paper describes generalizable methods for creating a gold standard to support future filter development and evaluation using oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) as a case study. OSCC is the most common malignancy affecting the oral cavity. Investigation of biomarkers with potential prognostic utility is an active area of research in OSCC. The methods discussed here should be useful for designing quality search filters in similar domains.
The authors searched MEDLINE for prognostic studies of OSCC, developed annotation guidelines for screeners, ran three calibration trials before annotating the remaining body of citations, and measured inter-annotator agreement (IAA).
We retrieved 1,818 citations. After calibration, we screened the remaining citations (n = 1,767; 97.2%); IAA was substantial (kappa = 0.76). The dataset has 497 (27.3%) citations representing OSCC studies of potential prognostic biomarkers.
The gold standard dataset is likely to be high quality and useful for future development and evaluation of filters for OSCC studies of potential prognostic biomarkers.
The methodology we used is generalizable to other domains requiring a reference standard to evaluate the performance of search filters. A gold standard is essential because the labels regarding relevance enable computation of diagnostic metrics, such as sensitivity and specificity. Librarians and informationists with data analysis skills could contribute to developing gold standard datasets and subsequent filters tuned for their patrons' domains of interest.
PMCID: PMC4279929  PMID: 25552941
16.  A web-based library consult service for evidence-based medicine: Technical development 
Incorporating evidence based medicine (EBM) into clinical practice requires clinicians to learn to efficiently gain access to clinical evidence and effectively appraise its validity. Even using current electronic systems, selecting literature-based data to solve a single patient-related problem can require more time than practicing physicians or residents can spare. Clinical librarians, as informationists, are uniquely suited to assist physicians in this endeavor.
To improve support for evidence-based practice, we have developed a web-based EBM library consult service application (LCS). Librarians use the LCS system to provide full text evidence-based literature with critical appraisal in response to a clinical question asked by a remote physician. LCS uses an entirely Free/Open Source Software platform and will be released under a Free Software license. In the first year of the LCS project, the software was successfully developed and a reference implementation put into active use. Two years of evaluation of the clinical, educational, and attitudinal impact on physician-users and librarian staff are underway, and expected to lead to refinement and wide dissemination of the system.
A web-based EBM library consult model may provide a useful way for informationists to assist clinicians, and is feasible to implement.
PMCID: PMC1484475  PMID: 16542453
17.  The changing continuing education role of health sciences libraries. 
Libraries have always organizationally supported the continuing education (CE) objectives of their respective institutions. As CE experts increase their understanding of the learning process and the factors that make CE opportunities successful, it is important that health sciences librarians use this knowledge to enhance their positions as key players in the CE field. This paper surveys the literature related to the roles of health sciences libraries in CE, reports an informal survey of health sciences librarians, and identifies innovative services that integrate the library with the lifelong learning processes of its users. Four distinct support areas are identified in which the library relates to CE (resources, content, education, and information management), illustrating traditional library CE roles and suggesting new opportunities. To be successful in improving the library's role in CE, librarians must attend to their own lifelong learning needs, increase collaboration with educators and CE providers, participate in research that addresses the learning and information assimilation processes, and actively involve the library in the quality filtering process.
PMCID: PMC225373  PMID: 2328367
18.  Exploring clinician adoption of a novel evidence request feature in an electronic medical record system 
Objective: The research evaluated strategies for facilitating physician adoption of an evidence-based medicine literature request feature recently integrated into an existing electronic medical record (EMR) system.
Methods: This prospective study explored use of the service by 137 primary care physicians by using service usage statistics and focus group and survey components. The frequency of physicians' requests for literature via the EMR during a 10-month period was examined to explore the impact of several enhanced communication strategies launched mid-way through the observation period. A focus group and a 25-item survey explored physicians' experiences with the service.
Results: There was no detectable difference in the proportion of physicians utilizing the service after implementation of the customized communication strategies (11% in each time period, P=1.0, McNemar's test). Forty-eight physicians (35%) responded to the survey. Respondents who had used the service (n=19) indicated that information provided through the service was highly relevant to clinical practice (mean rating 4.6, scale 1 “not relevant”–5 “highly relevant”), and most (n=15) reported sharing the information with colleagues.
Conclusion: The enhanced communication strategies, though well received, did not significantly affect use of the service. However, physicians noted the relevance and utility of librarian-summarized evidence from the literature, highlighting the potential benefits of providing expert librarian services in clinical workflow.
PMCID: PMC2212326  PMID: 18219379
19.  Clinical medical librarian impact on patient care: a one-year analysis. 
The primary role of the clinical medical librarian (CML)--locating and providing quality-filtered, patient-specific information to physicians--has been questioned recently because of the dramatic rise in end-user searching. This study administered a questionnaire to evaluate the current impact of this service in a major hospital setting with a long established CML program. The study showed that the CML provided house officers with information that affected patient care (defined as diagnosis, diagnostic tests, or treatment) between 40% and 59% of the time. This was true even though most physicians reported they generally researched the question prior to consulting the CML. In addition, the house officers in this study indicated that they distributed the CML-provided information to other health care providers 56%-96% of the time. Based on these limited results, it appears that CMLs can continue to provide information that has a strong impact on patient care, despite the availability of an end-user local MEDLINE system.
PMCID: PMC225610  PMID: 1537012
20.  Use of a multi-application computer workstation in a clinical setting. 
The goal of this study was to assess the usage frequency, user satisfaction, and quality of literature searchers for a multi-application computer workstation in a university-based general medicine clinic. A computer with medical literature searching, textbook searching, and a decision-support program was deployed in the workroom of the clinic and made available for routine use. Data were collected for ten months. More than three quarters of the study participants used the computer, with use increasing by level of medical training. Despite physicians' known preferences for nonjournal sources of information, literature searching was the application used most frequently, followed by textbooks and decision support. The literature searches were replicated by experienced clinician and librarian searchers using first full MEDLINE and then text-word-only searching, to compare the quantities of relevant references retrieved. Novice searchers retrieved a larger number of relevant references than did the experienced searchers, but they also retrieved more nonrelevant references. For both groups of experienced searchers, the full MEDLINE feature set conferred little benefit over searching with only text words. These searching results call into question the value of traditional searching methods for both novice and experienced physicians.
PMCID: PMC225961  PMID: 7841907
21.  Does the medical literature contain the evidence to answer the questions of primary care physicians? Preliminary findings of a study. 
OBJECTIVE: To assess the quality of information retrieved in MEDLINE searches performed to answer clinical questions of primary care physicians. SETTING: Ambulatory rural and nonrural practices. PARTICIPANTS: Active, non-academic primary care physicians; professional medical librarians, a general internist. DESIGN: Descriptive study in 3 stages: 1) Office Interviews, to record questions that arise in primary care practice; 2) Online Searches, to locate information that might answer these questions; and 3) Critical Appraisal to determine the quality of the information contained in the articles retrieved. MAIN RESULTS: Of 74 articles judged by clinicians to be relevant to their questions, 2 were critical reviews, 14 reported results of randomized controlled trials, and 4 reported results of cohort studies. The remainder contained weaker evidence: 1 reported results of a case-control study, 6 were longitudinal case series, 13 were cross-sectional descriptions of disease, 12 were cross-sectional descriptions of diagnostic testing, and 22 were review articles which did not meet criteria for a critical review. CONCLUSION: Searching the medical literature to answer the questions of primary care physicians was successful in retrieving recent, relevant information, and often provided "a clear answer" to the question, but the cost of using bibliographic retrieval was high, and fewer than a third of the articles retrieved contained high quality evidence.
PMCID: PMC2850641  PMID: 8130538
22.  Utilization of the medical librarian in a state Medicaid program to provide information services geared to health policy and health disparities 
Objective: The role of two solo medical librarians in supporting Medicaid programs by functioning as information specialists at regional and state levels is examined.
Setting: A solo librarian for the Massachusetts Medicaid (MassHealth) program and a solo librarian for the New England States Consortium Systems Organization (NESCSO) functioned as information specialists in context to support Medicaid policy development and clinical, administrative, and program staff for state Medicaid programs.
Brief Description: The librarian for MassHealth initially focused on acquiring library materials and providing research support on culturally competent health care and outreach, as part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care Standards. The NESCSO librarian focused on state Medicaid system issues surrounding the implementation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The research focus expanded for both the librarians, shaping their roles to more directly support clinical and administrative policy development. Of note, the availability and dissemination of information to policy leaders facilitated efforts to reduce health disparities. In Massachusetts, this led to a state legislative special commission to eliminate health disparities, which released a report in November 2005. On a regional level, the NESCSO librarian provided opportunities for states in New England to share ideas and Medicaid program information. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare are working with NESCSO to explore the potential for using the NESCSO model for collaboration for other regions of the United States.
Results/Outcomes: With the increased attention on evidence-based health care and reduction of health disparities, medical librarians are called on to support a variety of health care information needs. Nationally, state Medicaid programs are being called on to provide coverage and make complex medical decisions regarding the delivery of benefits. Increasing numbers of beneficiaries and shrinking Medicaid budgets demand effective and proactive decision making to provide quality care and to accomplish the missions of state Medicaid programs. In this environment, the opportunities for information professionals to provide value and knowledge management are increasing.
PMCID: PMC1435841  PMID: 16636710
23.  Can primary care physicians' questions be answered using the medical journal literature? 
Medical librarians and informatics professionals believe the medical journal literature can be useful in clinical practice, but evidence suggests that practicing physicians do not share this belief. The authors designed a study to determine whether a random sample of "native" questions asked by primary care practitioners could be answered using the journal literature. Participants included forty-nine active, nonacademic primary care physicians providing ambulatory care in rural and nonrural Oregon, and seven medical librarians. The study was conducted in three stages: (1) office interviews with physicians to record clinical questions; (2) online searches to locate answers to selected questions; and (3) clinician feedback regarding the relevance and usefulness of the information retrieved. Of 295 questions recorded during forty-nine interviews, 60 questions were selected at random for searches. The average total time spent searching for and selecting articles for each question was forty-three minutes. The average cost per question searched was $27.37. Clinician feedback was received for 48 of 56 questions (four physicians could not be located, so their questions were not used in tabulating the results). For 28 questions (56%), clinicians judged the material relevant; for 22 questions (46%) the information provided a "clear answer" to their question. They expected the information would have had an impact on their patient in nineteen (40%) cases, and an impact on themselves or their practice in twenty-four (51%) cases. If the results can be generalized, and if the time and cost of performing searches can be reduced, increased use of the journal literature could significantly improve the extent to which primary care physicians' information needs are met.
PMCID: PMC225885  PMID: 7772099
24.  Review for librarians of evidence-based practice in nursing and the allied health professions in the United States 
Objective: This paper provides an overview of the state of evidence-based practice (EBP) in nursing and selected allied health professions and a synopsis of current trends in incorporating EBP into clinical education and practice in these fields. This overview is intended to better equip librarians with a general understanding of the fields and relevant information resources.
Included Professions: Professions are athletic training, audiology, health education and promotion, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assisting, respiratory care, and speech-language pathology.
Approach: Each section provides a description of a profession, highlighting changes that increase the importance of clinicians' access to and use of the profession's knowledgebase, and a review of each profession's efforts to support EBP. The paper concludes with a discussion of the librarian's role in providing EBP support to the profession.
Conclusions: EBP is in varying stages of growth among these fields. The evolution of EBP is evidenced by developments in preservice training, growth of the literature and resources, and increased research funding. Obstacles to EBP include competing job tasks, the need for additional training, and prevalent attitudes and behaviors toward research among practitioners. Librarians' skills in searching, organizing, and evaluating information can contribute to furthering the development of EBP in a given profession.
PMCID: PMC2000778  PMID: 17971887
25.  Methodological developments in searching for studies for systematic reviews: past, present and future? 
Systematic Reviews  2013;2:78.
The Cochrane Collaboration was established in 1993, following the opening of the UK Cochrane Centre in 1992, at a time when searching for studies for inclusion in systematic reviews was not well-developed. Review authors largely conducted their own searches or depended on medical librarians, who often possessed limited awareness and experience of systematic reviews. Guidance on the conduct and reporting of searches was limited. When work began to identify reports of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) for inclusion in Cochrane Reviews in 1992, there were only approximately 20,000 reports indexed as RCTs in MEDLINE and none indexed as RCTs in Embase. No search filters had been developed with the aim of identifying all RCTs in MEDLINE or other major databases. This presented The Cochrane Collaboration with a considerable challenge in identifying relevant studies.
Over time, the number of studies indexed as RCTs in the major databases has grown considerably and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) has become the best single source of published controlled trials, with approximately 700,000 records, including records identified by the Collaboration from Embase and MEDLINE. Search filters for various study types, including systematic reviews and the Cochrane Highly Sensitive Search Strategies for RCTs, have been developed. There have been considerable advances in the evidence base for methodological aspects of information retrieval. The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions now provides detailed guidance on the conduct and reporting of searches. Initiatives across The Cochrane Collaboration to improve the quality inter alia of information retrieval include: the recently introduced Methodological Expectations for Cochrane Intervention Reviews (MECIR) programme, which stipulates 'mandatory’ and 'highly desirable’ standards for various aspects of review conduct and reporting including searching, the development of Standard Training Materials for Cochrane Reviews and work on peer review of electronic search strategies. Almost all Cochrane Review Groups and some Cochrane Centres and Fields now have a Trials Search Co-ordinator responsible for study identification and medical librarians and other information specialists are increasingly experienced in searching for studies for systematic reviews.
Prospective registration of clinical trials is increasing and searching trials registers is now mandatory for Cochrane Reviews, where relevant. Portals such as the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) are likely to become increasingly attractive, given concerns about the number of trials which may not be registered and/or published. The importance of access to information from regulatory and reimbursement agencies is likely to increase. Cross-database searching, gateways or portals and improved access to full-text databases will impact on how searches are conducted and reported, as will services such as Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Science. Technologies such as textual analysis, semantic analysis, text mining and data linkage will have a major impact on the search process but efficient and effective updating of reviews may remain a challenge.
In twenty years’ time, we envisage that the impact of universal social networking, as well as national and international legislation, will mean that all trials involving humans will be registered at inception and detailed trial results will be routinely available to all. Challenges will remain, however, to ensure the discoverability of relevant information in diverse and often complex sources and the availability of metadata to provide the most efficient access to information. We envisage an ongoing role for information professionals as experts in identifying new resources, researching efficient ways to link or mine them for relevant data and managing their content for the efficient production of systematic reviews.
PMCID: PMC4015986  PMID: 24066664
Cochrane Collaboration; Information and communication technologies; Information retrieval; Quality; Searching; Standards; Training materials; Trials Search Co-ordinators; Unpublished studies; Updating reviews

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