To compare PubMed Clinical Queries and UpToDate in teaching information mastery to clinical residents: a crossover randomized controlled trial

PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23487. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023487. Epub 2011 Aug 12.


Purpose: To compare PubMed Clinical Queries and UpToDate regarding the amount and speed of information retrieval and users' satisfaction.

Method: A cross-over randomized trial was conducted in February 2009 in Tehran University of Medical Sciences that included 44 year-one or two residents who participated in an information mastery workshop. A one-hour lecture on the principles of information mastery was organized followed by self learning slide shows before using each database. Subsequently, participants were randomly assigned to answer 2 clinical scenarios using either UpToDate or PubMed Clinical Queries then crossed to use the other database to answer 2 different clinical scenarios. The proportion of relevantly answered clinical scenarios, time to answer retrieval, and users' satisfaction were measured in each database.

Results: Based on intention-to-treat analysis, participants retrieved the answer of 67 (76%) questions using UpToDate and 38 (43%) questions using PubMed Clinical Queries (P<0.001). The median time to answer retrieval was 17 min (95% CI: 16 to 18) using UpToDate compared to 29 min (95% CI: 26 to 32) using PubMed Clinical Queries (P<0.001). The satisfaction with the accuracy of retrieved answers, interaction with UpToDate and also overall satisfaction were higher among UpToDate users compared to PubMed Clinical Queries users (P<0.001).

Conclusions: For first time users, using UpToDate compared to Pubmed Clinical Queries can lead to not only a higher proportion of relevant answer retrieval within a shorter time, but also a higher users' satisfaction. So, addition of tutoring pre-appraised sources such as UpToDate to the information mastery curricula seems to be highly efficient.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / standards*
  • Internet
  • Internship and Residency / methods*
  • Male
  • Medical Informatics / standards*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • PubMed / standards*
  • Teaching / methods*