A Comparison of Answer Retrieval Through Four Evidence-Based Textbooks (ACP PIER, Essential Evidence Plus, First Consult, and UpToDate): A Randomized Controlled Trial

Med Teach. 2011;33(9):724-30. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2010.531155.


Background: The efficacy of bedside information products has not been properly evaluated, particularly in developing countries.

Aim: To compare four evidence-based textbooks by comparing efficacy of their use by clinical residents, as measured by the proportion of questions for which relevant answers could be obtained within 20 min, the time to reach the answer and user satisfaction.

Methods: One hundred and twelve residents were taught information mastery basics and were randomly allocated to four groups to use: (1) ACP PIER, (2) Essential Evidence Plus (formerly InfoRetriever), (3) First Consult, and (4) UpToDate. Participants received 3 of 24 questions randomly to retrieve the answers from the assigned textbook. Retrieved answers and time-to-answers were recorded by special designed software, and the researchers determined if each recorded answer was relevant.

Results: The rate of answer retrieval was 86% in UpToDate, 69% in First Consult, 49% in ACP PIER, and 45% in Essential Evidence Plus (p < 0.001). The mean time-to-answer was 14.6 min using UpToDate, 15.9 min using First Consult, 16.3 min using Essential Evidence Plus, and 17.3 min using ACP PIER (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: UpToDate seems more comprehensive in content and also faster than the other three evidence-based textbooks. Thus, it may be considered as one of the best sources for answering clinicians' questions at the point of care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Education
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / methods*
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / standards
  • Iran
  • Male
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Software
  • Textbooks as Topic*