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Librarian Assistance Improves Search Outcomes

This comes from a small randomized trial in the UK.  Pediatric residents who were assisted by experienced librarians performed better PubMed searches than the control group.

'Effectiveness of bibliographic searches performed by paediatric residents and interns assisted by librarians. A randomised controlled trial.

Health Info Libr J. 2011 Dec;28(4):273-84

Authors: Gardois P, Calabrese R, Colombi N, Deplano A, Lingua C, Longo F, Villanacci MC, Miniero R, Piga A

Background:  Considerable barriers still prevent paediatricians from successfully using information retrieval technology. Objectives:  To verify whether the assistance of biomedical librarians significantly improves the outcomes of searches performed by paediatricians in biomedical databases using real-life clinical scenarios. Methods:  In a controlled trial at a paediatric teaching hospital, nine residents and interns were randomly allocated to an assisted search group and nine to a non-assisted (control) group. Each participant searched PubMed and other online sources, performing pre-determined tasks including the formulation of a clinical question, retrieval and selection of bibliographic records. In the assisted group, participants were supported by a librarian with ≥5 years of experience. The primary outcome was the success of search sessions, scored against a specific assessment tool. Results:  The median score of the assisted group was 73.6 points interquartile range (IQR = 13.4) vs. 50.4 (IQR = 17.1) of the control group. The difference between median values in the results was 23.2 points (95% CI 4.8-33.2), in favour of the assisted group (P-value, Mann-Whitney U test: 0.013). Conclusions:  The study has found quantitative evidence of a significant difference in search performance between paediatric residents or interns assisted by a librarian and those searching the literature alone.

PMID: 22051126 [PubMed - in process]

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