Background: 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?
Objectives: 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 strategy: 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.