Real-time, evidence-based medicine instruction: a randomized controlled trial in a neonatal intensive care unit

J Med Libr Assoc. 2002 Apr;90(2):194-201.


Purpose: The study assesses potential for improving residents' evidence-based medicine searching skills in MEDLINE through real-time librarian instruction.

Subjects: Ten residents on a rotation in a neonatal intensive care unit participated.

Methodology: Residents were randomized into an instruction and a non-instruction group. Residents generated questions from rounds and searched MEDLINE for answers. Data were collected through observation, search strategy analysis, and surveys. Librarians observed searches and collected data on questions, searching skills, search problems, and the test group's instruction topics. Participants performed standardized searches before, after, and six-months after intervention and were scored using a search strategy analysis tool (1 representing highest score and 5 representing lowest score). Residents completed pre- and post-intervention surveys to measure opinions about MEDLINE and search satisfaction.

Results: Post-intervention, the test group formulated better questions, used limits more effectively, and reported greater confidence in using MEDLINE. The control group expressed less satisfaction with retrieval and demonstrated more errors when limiting. The test and control groups had the following average search scores respectively: 3.0 and 3.5 (pre-intervention), 3.3 and 3.4 (post-intervention), and 2.0 and 3.8 (six-month post-intervention).

Conclusion: Data suggest that measurable learning outcomes were achieved. Residents receiving instruction improved and retained searching skills six-months after intervention.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction* / methods
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction* / standards
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / education*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Library Services* / standards
  • Male
  • Programmed Instructions as Topic
  • Time Factors
  • United States