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1.  Electronic retrieval of health information by healthcare providers to improve practice and patient care 
The movement towards evidence-based practice makes explicit the need for access to current best evidence to improve health. Advances in electronic technologies have made health information more available, but does availability affect the rate of use of evidence in practice?
To assess the effectiveness of interventions intended to provide electronic retrieval (access to information) to health information by healthcare providers to improve practice and patient care.
Search methods
We obtained studies from computerized searches of multiple electronic bibliographic databases, supplemented by checking reference lists, and consultation with experts.
Selection criteria
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) including cluster randomized trials (CRCTs), controlled clinical trials (CCT), and interrupted time series analyses (ITS) of any language publication status examining interventions of effectiveness of electronic retrieval of health information by healthcare providers.
Data collection and analysis
Duplicate relevancy screening of searches, data abstraction and risk of bias assessment was undertaken.
Main results
We found two studies that examined this question. Neither study found any changes in professional behavior following an intervention that facilitated electronic retrieval of health information. There was some evidence of improvements in knowledge about the electronic sources of information reported in one study. Neither study assessed changes in patient outcomes or the costs of provision of the electronic resource and the implementation of the recommended evidence-based practices.
Authors’ conclusions
Overall there was insufficient evidence to support or refute the use of electronic retrieval of healthcare information by healthcare providers to improve practice and patient care.
PMCID: PMC4164913  PMID: 19588361
Databases, Bibliographic [utilization]; Evidence-Based Medicine [*statistics & numerical data]; Health Personnel [*statistics & numerical data]; Information Storage and Retrieval [*utilization]; Patient Care; Professional Practice [*standards]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Humans
2.  Decision making in family medicine 
Canadian Family Physician  2013;59(10):1084-1094.
To compare the ability of users of 2 medical search engines, InfoClinique and the Trip database, to provide correct answers to clinical questions and to explore the perceived effects of the tools on the clinical decision-making process.
Randomized trial.
Three family medicine units of the family medicine program of the Faculty of Medicine at Laval University in Quebec city, Que.
Fifteen second-year family medicine residents.
Residents generated 30 structured questions about therapy or preventive treatment (2 questions per resident) based on clinical encounters. Using an Internet platform designed for the trial, each resident answered 20 of these questions (their own 2, plus 18 of the questions formulated by other residents, selected randomly) before and after searching for information with 1 of the 2 search engines. For each question, 5 residents were randomly assigned to begin their search with InfoClinique and 5 with the Trip database.
Main outcome measures
The ability of residents to provide correct answers to clinical questions using the search engines, as determined by third-party evaluation. After answering each question, participants completed a questionnaire to assess their perception of the engine’s effect on the decision-making process in clinical practice.
Of 300 possible pairs of answers (1 answer before and 1 after the initial search), 254 (85%) were produced by 14 residents. Of these, 132 (52%) and 122 (48%) pairs of answers concerned questions that had been assigned an initial search with InfoClinique and the Trip database, respectively. Both engines produced an important and similar absolute increase in the proportion of correct answers after searching (26% to 62% for InfoClinique, for an increase of 36%; 24% to 63% for the Trip database, for an increase of 39%; P = .68). For all 30 clinical questions, at least 1 resident produced the correct answer after searching with either search engine. The mean (SD) time of the initial search for each question was 23.5 (7.6) minutes with InfoClinique and 22.3 (7.8) minutes with the Trip database (P = .30). Participants’ perceptions of each engine’s effect on the decision-making process were very positive and similar for both search engines.
Family medicine residents’ ability to provide correct answers to clinical questions increased dramatically and similarly with the use of both InfoClinique and the Trip database. These tools have strong potential to increase the quality of medical care.
PMCID: PMC3796978  PMID: 24130286
3.  A Cost-Consequences Analysis of a Primary Care Librarian Question and Answering Service 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33837.
Cost consequences analysis was completed from randomized controlled trial (RCT) data for the Just-in-time (JIT) librarian consultation service in primary care that ran from October 2005 to April 2006. The service was aimed at providing answers to clinical questions arising during the clinical encounter while the patient waits. Cost saving and cost avoidance were also analyzed. The data comes from eighty-eight primary care providers in the Ottawa area working in Family Health Networks (FHNs) and Family Health Groups (FHGs).
We conducted a cost consequences analysis based on data from the JIT project [1]. We also estimated the potential economic benefit of JIT librarian consultation service to the health care system.
The results show that the cost per question for the JIT service was $38.20. The cost could be as low as $5.70 per question for a regular service. Nationally, if this service was implemented and if family physicians saw additional patients when the JIT service saved them time, up to 61,100 extra patients could be seen annually. A conservative estimate of the cost savings and cost avoidance per question for JIT was $11.55.
The cost per question, if the librarian service was used at full capacity, is quite low. Financial savings to the health care system might exceed the cost of the service. Saving physician's time during their day could potentially lead to better access to family physicians by patients. Implementing a librarian consultation service can happen quickly as the time required to train professional librarians to do this service is short.
PMCID: PMC3307768  PMID: 22442727
4.  Electronic search strategies to identify reports of cluster randomized trials in MEDLINE: low precision will improve with adherence to reporting standards 
Cluster randomized trials (CRTs) present unique methodological and ethical challenges. Researchers conducting systematic reviews of CRTs (e.g., addressing methodological or ethical issues) require efficient electronic search strategies (filters or hedges) to identify trials in electronic databases such as MEDLINE. According to the CONSORT statement extension to CRTs, the clustered design should be clearly identified in titles or abstracts; however, variability in terminology may make electronic identification challenging. Our objectives were to (a) evaluate sensitivity ("recall") and precision of a well-known electronic search strategy ("randomized controlled trial" as publication type) with respect to identifying CRTs, (b) evaluate the feasibility of new search strategies targeted specifically at CRTs, and (c) determine whether CRTs are appropriately identified in titles or abstracts of reports and whether there has been improvement over time.
We manually examined a wide range of health journals to identify a gold standard set of CRTs. Search strategies were evaluated against the gold standard set, as well as an independent set of CRTs included in previous systematic reviews.
The existing strategy (randomized controlled is sensitive (93.8%) for identifying CRTs, but has relatively low precision (9%, number needed to read 11); the number needed to read can be halved to 5 (precision 18.4%) by combining with cluster design-related terms using the Boolean operator AND; combining with the Boolean operator OR maximizes sensitivity (99.4%) but would require 28.6 citations read to identify one CRT. Only about 50% of CRTs are clearly identified as cluster randomized in titles or abstracts; approximately 25% can be identified based on the reported units of randomization but are not amenable to electronic searching; the remaining 25% cannot be identified except through manual inspection of the full-text article. The proportion of trials clearly identified has increased from 28% between the years 2000-2003, to 60% between 2004-2007 (absolute increase 32%, 95% CI 17 to 47%).
CRTs should include the phrase "cluster randomized trial" in titles or abstracts; this will facilitate more accurate indexing of the publication type by reviewers at the National Library of Medicine, and efficient textword retrieval of the subset employing cluster randomization.
PMCID: PMC2833170  PMID: 20158899
5.  Barriers to the effective treatment and prevention of malaria in Africa: A systematic review of qualitative studies 
In Africa, an estimated 300-500 million cases of malaria occur each year resulting in approximately 1 million deaths. More than 90% of these are in children under 5 years of age. To identify commonly held beliefs about malaria that might present barriers to its successful treatment and prevention, we conducted a systematic review of qualitative studies examining beliefs and practices concerning malaria in sub-Saharan African countries.
We searched Medline and Scopus (1966-2009) and identified 39 studies that employed qualitative methods (focus groups and interviews) to examine the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of people living in African countries where malaria is endemic. Data were extracted relating to study characteristics, and themes pertaining to barriers to malaria treatment and prevention.
The majority of studies were conducted in rural areas, and focused mostly or entirely on children. Major barriers to prevention reported included a lack of understanding of the cause and transmission of malaria (29/39), the belief that malaria cannot be prevented (7/39), and the use of ineffective prevention measures (12/39). Thirty-seven of 39 articles identified barriers to malaria treatment, including concerns about the safety and efficacy of conventional medicines (15/39), logistical obstacles, and reliance on traditional remedies. Specific barriers to the treatment of childhood malaria identified included the belief that a child with convulsions could die if given an injection or taken to hospital (10/39).
These findings suggest that large-scale malaria prevention and treatment programs must account for the social and cultural contexts in which they are deployed. Further quantitative research should be undertaken to more precisely measure the impact of the themes uncovered by this exploratory analysis.
PMCID: PMC2782321  PMID: 19852857
6.  Improving healthcare consumer effectiveness: An Animated, Self-serve, Web-based Research Tool (ANSWER) for people with early rheumatoid arthritis 
People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) should use DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) within the first three months of symptoms in order to prevent irreversible joint damage. However, recent studies report the delay in DMARD use ranges from 6.5 months to 11.5 months in Canada. While most health service delivery interventions are designed to improve the family physician's ability to refer to a rheumatologist and prescribe treatments, relatively little has been done to improve the delivery of credible, relevant, and user-friendly information for individuals to make treatment decisions. To address this care gap, the Animated, Self-serve, Web-based Research Tool (ANSWER) will be developed and evaluated to assist people in making decisions about the use of methotrexate, a type of DMARD. The objectives of this project are: 1) to develop ANSWER for people with early RA; and 2) to assess the extent to which ANSWER reduces people's decisional conflict about the use of methotrexate, improves their knowledge about RA, and improves their skills of being 'effective healthcare consumers'.
Consistent with the International Patient Decision Aid Standards, the development process of ANSWER will involve: 1.) creating a storyline and scripts based on the best evidence on the use of methotrexate and other management options in RA, and the contextual factors that affect a patient's decision to use a treatment as found in ERAHSE; 2.) using an interactive design methodology to create, test, analyze and refine the ANSWER prototype; 3.) testing the content and user interface with health professionals and patients; and 4.) conducting a pilot study with 51 patients, who are diagnosed with RA in the past 12 months, to assess the extent to which ANSWER improves the quality of their decisions, knowledge and skills in being effective consumers.
We envision that the ANSWER will help accelerate the dissemination of knowledge and skills necessary for people with early RA to make informed choices about treatment and to manage their health. The latest in animation and online technology will ensure ANSWER fills a knowledge translation gap, focusing on the next generation of people living with RA.
PMCID: PMC2733893  PMID: 19695086
7.  Just-in-Time Information Improved Decision-Making in Primary Care: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(11):e3785.
The “Just-in-time Information” (JIT) librarian consultation service was designed to provide rapid information to answer primary care clinical questions during patient hours. This study evaluated whether information provided by librarians to answer clinical questions positively impacted time, decision-making, cost savings and satisfaction.
Methods and Finding
A randomized controlled trial (RCT) was conducted between October 2005 and April 2006. A total of 1,889 questions were sent to the service by 88 participants. The object of the randomization was a clinical question. Each participant had clinical questions randomly allocated to both intervention (librarian information) and control (no librarian information) groups. Participants were trained to send clinical questions via a hand-held device. The impact of the information provided by the service (or not provided by the service), additional resources and time required for both groups was assessed using a survey sent 24 hours after a question was submitted. The average time for JIT librarians to respond to all questions was 13.68 minutes/question (95% CI, 13.38 to 13.98). The average time for participants to respond their control questions was 20.29 minutes/question (95% CI, 18.72 to 21.86). Using an impact assessment scale rating cognitive impact, participants rated 62.9% of information provided to intervention group questions as having a highly positive cognitive impact. They rated 14.8% of their own answers to control question as having a highly positive cognitive impact, 44.9% has having a negative cognitive impact, and 24.8% with no cognitive impact at all. In an exit survey measuring satisfaction, 86% (62/72 responses) of participants scored the service as having a positive impact on care and 72% (52/72) indicated that they would use the service frequently if it were continued.
In this study, providing timely information to clinical questions had a highly positive impact on decision-making and a high approval rating from participants. Using a librarian to respond to clinical questions may allow primary care professionals to have more time in their day, thus potentially increasing patient access to care. Such services may reduce costs through decreasing the need for referrals, further tests, and other courses of action.
Trial Registration ISRCTN96823810
PMCID: PMC2583045  PMID: 19023446
8.  Access to the medical literature 
PMCID: PMC1913110  PMID: 17638959
10.  Systematic reviews need systematic searchers 
Purpose: This paper will provide a description of the methods, skills, and knowledge of expert searchers working on systematic review teams.
Brief Description: Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are very important to health care practitioners, who need to keep abreast of the medical literature and make informed decisions. Searching is a critical part of conducting these systematic reviews, as errors made in the search process potentially result in a biased or otherwise incomplete evidence base for the review. Searches for systematic reviews need to be constructed to maximize recall and deal effectively with a number of potentially biasing factors. Librarians who conduct the searches for systematic reviews must be experts.
Discussion/Conclusion: Expert searchers need to understand the specifics about data structure and functions of bibliographic and specialized databases, as well as the technical and methodological issues of searching. Search methodology must be based on research about retrieval practices, and it is vital that expert searchers keep informed about, advocate for, and, moreover, conduct research in information retrieval. Expert searchers are an important part of the systematic review team, crucial throughout the review process—from the development of the proposal and research question to publication.
PMCID: PMC545125  PMID: 15685278
13.  Knowledge Translation Efforts in Child and Youth Mental Health: A Systematic Review 
The availability of knowledge translation strategies that have been empirically studied and proven useful is a critical prerequisite to narrowing the research-to-practice gap in child and youth mental health. Through this review the authors sought to determine the current state of scientific knowledge of the effectiveness of knowledge translation approaches in child and youth mental health by conducting a systematic review of the research evidence. The findings and quality of the 12 included studies are discussed. Future work of high methodological quality that explores a broader range of knowledge translation strategies and practitioners to which they are applied and that also attends to implementation process is recommended.
PMCID: PMC3534353  PMID: 22830938
Knowledge translation; children's mental health; systemic review

Results 1-13 (13)