Librarians to the rescue
Transforming the communication of evidence for better health
In the run-up to Evidence Live 2016, the organisers asked health science students, junior doctors, and early career researchers to write about projects or innovative ideas that they have been part of and that deal with some of the conference’s main themes (see the box at the end of this article). This article features one of the five winners who gain a free place to attend the conference in Oxford between 22 and 24 June 2016.
Ranei Ho Gah Juan, Masters student in medical science, University of Malaya
Imagine a world where doctors have the superpower to give quick evidence based answers to patients’ concerns about treatments.
In reality, the pressure to answer these types of questions can be overwhelming. You scratch your head and search medical journals; you become so occupied going through one study after another trying to decide what is best for your patient. You are unsure how exactly to do the search, which database or key terms to use.
With this in mind, our research team based in Malaysia decided to provide an evidence retrieval service to assist 20 primary care physicians. Over the course of a month, doctors working at a primary clinic in Kuala Lumpur could submit any clinical questions through WhatsApp or our website (evidence2u.com). We wanted to find out what types of questions doctors had about treatments and how this service could assist their clinical practice. Our team searched for studies to find the most up to date papers with the highest level of evidence to help inform the conversations doctors had with patients about treatments. We sent links to these papers back to the doctors via WhatsApp and email.
Over this period, 37 questions were submitted (we answered 34) and it took an average of 22 hours to respond to each query. Participants were also asked to rate the service when they received the answer to their questions. Most said the service was satisfactory in terms of overall experience and quality of answers given. Only the length of response was found to be unsatisfactory among 18.9% of the respondents.
On the basis of this feedback, this pilot has shown us that an evidence retrieval service has the potential to have a positive impact on clinical practice and we are hopeful that the service will be further utilised to include more primary care physicians and librarians in the future.
Evidence Live 2016 conference themes
- Improving the quality of research evidence
- Disentangling the problems of too much and too little medicine
- Transforming the communication of evidence for better health
- Training the next generation of leaders in applied evidence
- Translating evidence into better quality health services
- Alper BS, Stevermer JJ, White DS, Ewigman BG. Answering family physicians’ clinical questions using electronic medical databases. J Fam Pract 2001;50:960-5.pmid:11711012.
- Green ML, Ruff TR. Why do residents fail to answer their clinical questions? A qualitative study of barriers to practicing evidence-based medicine. Acad Med 2005;80:176-82. doi:10.1097/00001888-200502000-00016 pmid:15671325.