Maggio, Lauren A., and Janice Y. Kung. “How are medical students trained to locate biomedical information to practice evidence-based medicine? a review of the 2007-2012 literature.” Journal of the Medical Library Association 102(3): 184-191.
The authors begin with a succinct definition of evidence-based medicine (EBM): “the integration of best available research evidence, patient preferences, and clinical acumen to make optimal decisions in patient care” (184). Unfortunately, although EBM has been associated with improved patient outcomes and continued learning by doctors, it often is not practiced to its fullest extent because medical students are not sufficiently trained to find the resources they need. To remedy this, the authors set out to examine the current information retrieval training methods for undergraduate medical students and suggest improved strategies based on their findings. Articles examined were published between 2007 and 2012 and described EBM focused information retrieval teaching sessions of undergraduate medical students. The authors pulled these from a variety of locations, including MEDLINE, Scopus, Web of Science, Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), Cochrane Library, and Google Scholar. Results originally included 621 articles, which were reduced to 12 after the removal of duplicates and examination to make sure they were met the study’s criteria. The training sessions described by the articles presented several similar aspects. All except one training session (which took place in a hospital ward) were some form of classroom (either physical or online). A majority were integrated into the medical school curriculum, although the frequency of the training sessions varied widely. Most focused on PubMed or MEDLINE through other interfaces, although many briefly covered other information sources as well. Based on these findings, the authors made several recommendations. They encouraged online classes, which are shown to be as helpful as face to face meetings, and help to incorporate media into the classroom. Lessons with multiple sessions and distributed practice help people learn more effectively, so they encouraged use of those as well, preferably over the course of their training as much as possible. Also recommended was coverage of a wider variety of databases, especially freely accessible ones.
I was impressed with this article. It makes use of a thorough research method and examination of available information to offer concrete suggestions for practitioners in the field – everything that evidence-based librarianship should be.